On The Front Line... Alexx Antaeus & Orlease King
Co-directors, Opa Greek Restaurant & Reggae Mill Jamaican Restaurant & BarThursday, May 21, 2020
COVID-19 is pushing the restaurant industry to think creatively. We have all read the headlines about this pandemic and the devastating impact it is having on many eateries. But not us. We chose to reorganise our entire business operation, overnight.
Early on we realised that during this period, it would not be business as usual. If the world is turning upside down, we had to learn how to stand on our heads. And so with every obstacle that the pandemic brings we seek and find opportunities to show the strength and diversity of our brands. While many other food establishments decided to temporarily close down, we agreed that as long as we could keep expenses manageable, we would continue offering great food and wonderful experiences to our customers in true Orlease and Alexx style.
One of our first moves was to tackle some of our more costly overheads. Rent being one of them, we were thankfully able to arrive at a mutually beneficial agreement with our landlord. Next, we chose to maximise our opening hours every day (no more Sundays off for a while). Each day we remain open until two hours before curfew, whatever that time is, based on the Government's decisions. Those two hours allow an hour for cleaning and an hour for staff to get home safely.
We also focused on engaging the strong sense of community that was built before the coronavirus took hold. Our message to our patrons was that if they have enjoyed our gastronomical offers and world-class service over the past seven years that we have been in business (Opa was established in 2013), we would appreciate their support now, so we can still be around when this unique era is over.
We have always placed high value on the health and safety of our staff and customers. And we are champions of operating a spanking-clean restaurant. However, we thought it necessary as the public became more concerned about sanitation and hygiene practices, to publicly emphasise how serious we were about maintaining a safe and clean space. We created quick social media videos showing the extra sanitising methods we incorporated during the COVID-19 era. We shared with the public how we sanitise door handles, menus and credit card terminals on a constant basis, as well as our sanitation procedures for supplies and produce entering our restaurant. It has been proven that video instantly humanises a restaurant's story. And it has always been our custom to share more than just food with our customers; we share experiences. People loved it and expressed their appreciation, satisfaction and approval. Furthermore, by design our facility offers many safe options for dining: Three separate indoor areas and two outdoor. That allowed us the opportunity to space patrons who chose in-restaurant dining far apart from each other.
Considering the circumstances, we have chosen to be more focused on convenience and affordability for customers (little money is better than no money at all). With that in mind, we felt that “deals” and “packages” would fare much better than regular menus. That became very apparent for our newest eatery, Reggae Mill at Devon House. Authentic Jamaican cuisine is more synonymous with a bellyful plate at a great price. Early on, we partnered with Gustazos and we ran four different Gustazo offers (two for each restaurant). That brought our great deals to more households because of the extensive reach that Gustazos has. We are now using the same medium to promote and sell our extensive inventory of premium top-shelf liquor like Hennessy and Mumm Olympe Rosé Champagne (Usain Bolt's signature Champagne). Because of our successful Fridays at the Devon series, we always keep a rather large inventory of top-shelf liquor, which we now are selling at discounted prices. We have also created the “Your Rewards Club.” Anyone who orders four entrées gets the fifth one free. One could combine orders from both restaurants and don't have to order all four meals at the same time. Furthermore, we have strengthened our partnerships with delivery services like My QuickPlate, Cut di Line, Pekkish and 7Krave. In particular with 7Krave we are offering 20% off the entire menu of both restaurants for the month of May.
A few weeks ago, Orlease came up with the idea of a “Mega Dinner Special,” to be available Sundays only, and with the requirement of preordering. Mega Dinner consists of oxtail, baked or fried chicken, steamed fish, stewed peas, rice and peas, steamed vegetables, festival and sweet potato pudding. Enough food to feed up to eight people, aggressively priced at $8,000. We have been selling out every Sunday. Our approach with that was to keep prices as low as possible, maintain our commitment to our existing customers and give new customers a taste of what we have to offer. We not only generate volume and gain new customers, we also help families enjoy a nice Sunday meal during these financially difficult times.
Running a business is, to a large degree, about taking care of the community. This is a great time to better ourselves, while at the same time help others. Take care of the people who patronise you because without them your business would be nothing but four walls with empty space in between.
COVID-19 can be seen as a terrible enemy or a great teacher depending on whether one chooses to merely “go through it” or “grow through it”. Since the beginning of this outbreak we have maintained a positive outlook and attitude. Regardless of how challenging things get we are committed to staying focused and keeping in mind why we started our journey. This is a period that if you stay alive, if you stay in business, you are a winner. Our goal is to keep paying our bills and keep our team gainfully employed. By adding value, creating fresh content, and serving our guests as queens and kings, we are winning this war.
Opa Greek Restaurant & Reggae Mill Jamaican Restaurant & Bar
26 Hope Road, Kingston
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