With CLOSED signs on the doors of all three of The Establishment’s branches during the alcohol bans, gains made in the past five years have all but been destroyed thanks to the pandemic.
Prior to lockdown, patrons flocked to The Establishment for dining and a relaxed nightlife atmosphere, but for the past year, the branches in Alexandra, Spruitview and Diepkloof have suffered major losses due to the lockdown and alcohol bans.
The venues offer upmarket urban upbeat cocktail lounges and restaurants which combine mix of South African cuisine, art, local fashion and musical entertainment artistry with western influences, for "an unforgettable experience that will leave you coming back for more," says manager Ronald Ndlovu.
The Establishment is one of 400 hospitality industry businesses which are receiving support from Diageo South Africa after the financial losses caused by the Covid-19 lockdown, with the #WeChoose campaign which provides a stock injection and marketing support, as well as a movement to ensure the promotion of responsible drinking.
A total of R200 million in stock replenishments, cash and marketing support, has been given, as well as the beginning of a new movement to promote responsible drinking.
The purpose of #WeChoose, launched in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, is to help rebuild the liquor industry, which was hit by months of not being able to trade either at all, or only during restricted hours. "We will do this responsibly in terms of both trading and consumption," said Diageo SA’s Marketing Director, Zizwe Vundla. "All parties need to play their part – responsible trading by outlets and responsible consumption by consumers."
Ndlovu said that Covid-19 meant that “all our hard work has fallen by the wayside. In the restaurant industry there are not many profits, so once you’ve been closed for a month, you’re back to square one after paying rent and staff salaries.
While landlords were generous at first, the third ban on alcohol sales has pilled more debt atop outstanding debt from last year. "It is going to be a long road back," Ndlovu said.
"We have been left with about 15 staff members out of 100.
Diageo helped The Establishment by providing a cash and stock injection, which Ndlovu said alleviated a lot of stress from the first lockdown.
Once The Establishment can fully trade again, Ndlovu expects that turnover will still be down and visitor numbers lower. "People are cautious because of the pandemic, but we will play our part by making sure our stores are safe and that our customers enjoy themselves safely.
"#WeChoose to trade responsibly and we ask our customers that they choose to be responsible too, and use #WeChoose to drink responsibly on their social media platforms to show support," Ndlovu said.