Bangkok’s Hospitality People Unite to Fight Against Coronavirus
These are testing times for humanity. COVID-19 has caused great hardship to people and disrupted business and services throughout the world. Thailand is no exception, with our hospitality industry also impacted.
While the MERS outbreak hit hard in 2012, it did not prepare us for the enormous obstacles posed by COVID-19, which caused international visitor arrivals to Thailand to plunge by 91.15-percent in the first 20 days of March. Despite this posing a nightmare of unprecedented proportions for the hospitality industry, we have also seen business owners and customers unite with outpourings of generosity to help one another and boost morale.
With people around the world staying home to flatten the curve, renowned chefs like Massimo Bottura and José André are taking the opportunity to host free online cooking classes to help us all come out of quarantine as more accomplished and confident cooks. Many top-tier restaurants and bars have pivoted towards offering delivery, and in Bangkok you can now find two-Michelin-star restaurants shooting off three-course meals in takeaway containers.
Strict lockdown measures and a government decree which restricts food sellers to takeout and delivery has put a heavy burden on the city’s hospitality industry, which has suffered staff layoffs on a large scale. Thankfully, hospitality people are exploring new ways to assist their fellow citizens. Leading the charge is Deepanker “DK” Khosla, the chef-owner of Haoma, an innovative urban farm-slash-restaurant in the heart of Bangkok. His #NoOneHungry donation drive aims to help feed the tens of thousands of unemployed workers struggling to make ends meet. As of Apr 6, Chef DK’s crowdfunding campaign has raised over 300,000 Baht (9130 USD) from 104 backers, and he’s hopeful of passing the one million mark in the near future. (To play your part, visit here: https://gogetfunding.com/noonehungry-haoma-bangkok/?fbclid=IwAR3BFkbhmVQI5-VZ3M12-PS-LHDmR79zqdXyenVqZsIuC7_sLdRU6G1_Ze0)
If you want to feed yourself and support local farmers at the same time, consider Bo.lan’s new CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. Seeking a way to look after its staff and tireless suppliers, the Michelin-star Thai fine-dining restaurant has turned to grocery delivery—with an extra-nutritious twist. “We’re trying to order just as much as we would normally buy from farmers and producers. It’s not only to help them, but we can’t stop plants from growing or coming into bloom, and throwing away the produce isn’t an option,” Dharath Hoonchamlong, environmental manager of Bo.lan, said. “So, we’re looking for ways to help distribute all the produce to customers. Our CSA box delivers highly nutritious healthy food directly to your door.” For 800 Baht, customers get a box packed with locally-grown fruits and vegetables, which can be kept for at least three days if stored properly, as well as three recipes to follow in order to get the most out of their fresh produce. The box is delivered every Wednesday and Saturday with recipes changing depending on the produce received from farmers. Don’t feel like cooking yourself? Fear not, Bo.lan also offers mini meal boxes priced from 850-1,500 Baht.
Bangkok’s bars have also been dealt a blow, but many business owners are forging ahead not only by offering takeouts or free delivery, but also through “pay-it-forward” voucher campaigns for loyal customers. Among the top bars rolling out such initiatives are Tropic City, Charoenkrung’s acclaimed tropical cocktail bar, which is selling drink vouchers priced from 1,000-5,000 Baht which will yield discounts of up to 1,500 Baht when the bar reopens. Similarly, Vesper, which placed 26th in Asia’s 50 Best Bars list of 2019, is offering vouchers starting from 2,000 Baht and going all the way up to 50,000 Baht.
To compound things, the Covid-19 pandemic is not the only battle we’re currently fighting, with wildfires having raged through the northern regions of Thailand for over a month now. In response, Ku Bar, a hidden cocktail haunt in the Old Town, sold plum wine and a special plum cocktail via delivery, with 100-percent of proceeds—around 10,000 baht—going to relief funds for COVID-19 and the Chiang Mai wildfires.
While there is a tough road ahead in the fight against COVID-19, it’s reassuring that in times of struggle so many people and businesses can pull together for the greater good.
Unite to Fight Against Coronavirus
by Wanvida Jiralertpaiboon
Ku Bar: www.facebook.com/ku.bangkok
Tropic City: www.facebook.com/tropiccitybkk/