The coronavirus epidemic, which continues to have an impact all over the world, also had a severe impact on the food and beverage industry. While the restaurants, which were closed for a long time, were partially reopened with the new normal, many businesses withdrew from the gastronomy world by closing their shutters completely. However, we met with Mehmet Gurs, who achieved important rankings in the list of the most important restaurants in the world and is the chief architect of the restaurant in Mikla, Turkey’s gastronomy pride, and we received his thoughts about the process that all shareholders in the sector have experienced with adversity.
Expressing that they have been going through a difficult process, Mehmet Gürs stated that he does not think that the sector has learned too many lessons from the pandemic and underlines that everyone is going through a difficult period both economically and socially. Stating that the lifestyles and behaviours that come with the pandemic may be permanent, Gürs said: “It is not the new normal we are experiencing right now. If we’d moved on to the new normal, the restaurants wouldn’t be standing right now. It cannot be continued with such few people in this square meter. If it continues, the profit-loss structure of restaurants should change radically. Food and beverage is already a difficult sector. So I think it would be wrong to call the current world and working conditions as the new normal. Some of our behaviour from this period is likely to remain. But as I said, all my answers are very grey. Because I can’t predict the process either.”
“Unfortunately, there will be restaurants closing”
Expressing that northern countries and other social states were also highly affected by the pandemic, Mehmet Gürs said: “Each country has its own solution. Support is naturally greater in areas with low population density and high welfare. But even in those countries, there are restaurants that are closed. One of Turkey’s biggest problems is population density. It is impossible to employ so many people. Many people in the sector keep the tail upright, but the food and beverage sector as a whole has been affected by the pandemic. Of course, there will be restaurants that close. There is a certain amount of support, but that support will naturally stop one day.”
“Mikla has been open for 15 years, the customer comes with confidence”
Gürs also mentions that there is usually a decrease in the number of guests in restaurants, but despite this, very serious numbers of people come to some places. Emphasizing that Mikla always pays attention to hygiene, the successful name, “I do not think it is a question mark by the guests about the hygiene of Mikla. We already had certain hygiene rules. Mikla has been open for 15 years, the customer comes with confidence. So we made small changes in the pandemic. The distance between the tables was already too much, and we increased it a little more. We have enough space. We also have plenty of open spaces” says.
“I see the future of Istanbul bright”
Mehmet Gurs says that some periods are a good opportunity for investment, and this process that we are in is one of these periods. Saying that “Such periods are a good opportunity for investment”, Gürs continues his words as follows: “I think customers will return sooner or later. This is an interim period. I see the future of Istanbul gastronomy bright. On the other hand, there is an exciting stir in the Aegean. There are serious movements and studies in the whole region from south to north. I believe that the Aegean will be one of the places that will stand out in gastronomy tourism. With its product, wine, agriculture, raki, people, pleasure, there is a philosophy and comfort in the Aegean. I think the Aegean will be a shining star.”
Mehmet Gurs, who stated that the wealth of products in Turkey should first be noticed and evaluated by the people of the country, finally says: “Instead of just saying how to sell and promote this product, it is useful to focus on how to do it better. Domestic customers want better so that quality production increases. The rest comes anyway.”