On May 19, after long months of closure, bars and restaurants will be able to reopen, but only on the terrace. “We will not be profitable,” warns one of the managers interviewed by franceinfo.

Juliette Cerdan, co-manager of the Rosie brewery in Bastille (Paris), seated at the restaurant's counter on May 4, 2021. (CHARLES-EDOUARD AMA KOFFI / FRANCEINFO)

Since the end of the Easter weekend, an end-of-service atmosphere has reigned at Brasserie Rosie. Chairs and tables are stacked on top of each other, and cardboard boxes litter the floor next to a keg of beer. “We did click and collect from October until Easter and then we realized that Paris was emptying so we closed completely”, explains Kevin Caradeuc, the co-manager of the brewery opened in January 2020. Since the closure, he comes every day with his partner, Juliette Cerdan, to manage the daily administrative work of the 500 m2 establishment. “It’s a bit like our baby, we put all our strength and savings into it so we need to come”, he justifies, next to a floor mat, which he uses to keep himself in shape between two receipt of invoices. On May 19, their activity, like that of all the bars and restaurants, will be able to resume, but only outdoors and at 50% of the capacity of the terrace. Good news that they welcome with a certain touch of trepidation and bitterness.

The planning puzzle

Here, service on the terrace was not the initial objective. “We have 200 seats inside and only 10 outside, note Kevin Caradeuc. We had designed our business plan for a true classic restaurant service. ” To prepare for the resumption of activity, it was therefore necessary to show diplomacy: “We managed to put 16 place settings outside by asking our neighbors, who are shops, if we could stretch out a bit. From 7:30 p.m., we will therefore be able to put 60 place settings, but only until 9 p.m., because of the curfew… “

Kevin Caradeuc, co-manager of Brasserie Rosie located in the Bastille district (Paris), May 4, 2021 (CHARLES-EDOUARD AMA KOFFI / FRANCEINFO)

For terraces of less than 50 m2 as is the case here, the executive requests the installation of plexiglass or screens between the clients. A difficult option to implement, according to Kevin Caradeuc. “They tell us a little late, we will never be delivered by the middle of the week next, he laments. And it’s very expensive, so we’re going to use the D system instead and put the cliens back to back and space them one meter apart. ”

Another challenge before the opening: the organization of the schedule for the 45 employees of the restaurant with reduced service due to health constraints. “We may turn to seven on the lunch service and 10 in the evening. But at noon, the service will not be at the table, meaning that customers will order and come and collect their order at the counter. ” SonThe objective is thus to save the charges on the salary of an employee at midday.

A puzzle shared a few hundred meters away by Olivier, the manager of the bar-restaurant La Rêverie, whose windows are covered with tarpaulins. “We had to adjust our schedule for the 7:00 pm curfew in October. Now it has to be adapted for closing at 9 p.m. and after at 11 p.m. They don’t realize how much work it takes ”, he laments. At La Rêverie, among the 20 employees, those who will be able to return to work will be the oldest. This will also happen “Volunteering”, he advances a little hesitantly. The others will remain on partial unemployment.

In the meantime, Olivier spends his days getting ready by calling his suppliers to deliver the food and alcohol needed for the 32 seats on the terrace. “We are opening for our customers but we will not be profitable. If the other bars open and we don’t, what will customers say? We do it so as not to lose our reputation, so as not to be forgotten… ” Before conceding:

A few hundred meters further on, on the Boulevard Beaumarchais side, another Olivier, who manages the Le Génie bar, has just reopened the take-away sale… without it earning him much. “It’s just to show up until May 19, he concedes. I reopened on Monday May 3 and have had to sell 50 euros a day since then, it’s nothing at all. ”

Very expensive ephemeral terraces

Normally, the Genie’s covered terrace can accommodate up to 20 people but “With the sanitary protocol, we can only serve 10 people”,notes Olivier, who has already negotiated with the town hall of Paris for an extension on the public highway with a view to May 19. For the moment, it is still free but the restaurant owner fears that the ephemeral terraces will become chargeable, as announced by the town hall of Paris in Le Parisien (paid item). “If the bars and restaurants can open mid-May as announced, we will not impose terrace rights on them right away. We will exempt them until the end of the summer ”, then backpedaled Mayor Anne Hidalgo in Sunday Newspaper(paid item).

“I already pay 3,000 euros per month for this terrace of approximately 20 m2, vitupère Olivier by delimiting the terrace with the tip of his finger. If we have to pay the same thing to expand, it doesn’t become profitable… ” For its part, the Paris town hall is procrastinating: “As soon as there is a commercial occupation of public space, you are obliged to collect a tax as a community.” A consultation is currently underway with local residents, professionals in the sector and the town hall of Paris on the integration of these ephemeral terraces into the regulations for terraces and displays in the city. “Discussions on the amount of rent should be held in the next few days so there will be something in June”, assures the town hall that specifies that it will be “cheaper” than that currently paid by traders.

This is good news for them, as most of them fear a particularly difficult summer for their cash flow. After state aid via the solidarity fund, the resumption of activity also marks the end of partial unemployment. Despite the announcement by Bruno the Mayor to grant the solidarity fund until the end of May and to ease its conditions for obtaining it from June, the concern remains. Guest of the morning of franceinfo on May 10, the Minister of the Economy again encouraged the restaurateurs:

“Restaurants are likely to get very expensive, warns Cécile M’kavavo, president of the hotels, cafes and restaurants branch of the National Group of Independents (GNI). We will have to separate from employees if we no longer have State aid because many bosses will no longer be able to honor the charges and there will be drastic choices to be made. ”

A fear shared by Juliette Cerdan, from Brasserie Rosie: “This recovery is both positive and distressing. On the one hand, we are very happy to reopen but we already know that we will not be able to make money and we wonder what we will do if the epidemic starts again. ” And it is not the prospect of the full opening of the restaurant on June 30 that can cheer her up. “I think this summer will be really hard, especially for restaurants in the Paris region because the activity is quieter and this year there will be no tourists.”Especially since the government has already dampened the enthusiasm of customers and professionals in the sector: it will not be possible to be more than six around the table.