The Sukthothai's Arno Liebscher on the Effects of the Lockdown

By Ned Kelly, July 1, 2022

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Arno Liebscher is the Director of Food & Beverage at The Sukhothai Shanghai. We caught up with him to talk about the lockdown and its impact on Shanghai's F&B scene.

Could you briefly introduce The Sukthothai Shanghai's F&B options to us?
At The Sukthothai Shanghai we have lately acquired various awards for our hotel and dining venues.

Our Italian restaurant La Scala was just honored by the Black Pearl Restaurant Guide 2022, being awarded the prestigious Black Pearl Diamond as a “Must visit restaurant for gathering.”

URBAN Café serves modern authentic Thai cuisine, while Beans & Grapes, our grab-and-go delicatessen on L2M, offers seasonal sweet treats and healthy light meal options. 

Lately, The ZUK Bar brings a taste of nature and an exciting update to Shanghai’s dynamic neighborhood of West Nanjing Road, Jing'an, with a newly remodeled garden terrace; offering an expanded beverage menu and Mediterranean food selection, The ZUK Bar is a bistro by day and blends into a convivial bar as night falls.

The ZUK Bar is a bistro by day and blends into a convivial bar as night falls

Describe the toll of Shanghai’s citywide lockdown on your venue?
We were told to shut down all our venues from mid-March as the infected cases started to rise. Since then, we were only allowed to serve our in house guests.

Immediately after the lockdown was lifted on June 1, we launched our takeout and delivery online service through Meituan and for Thai and Italian cuisines, bakery and cakes, and creative cocktails handcrafted by our mixologist from The ZUK Bar. 

And what were the effects of the lockdown on you and your staff's mental wellbeing?
Half of the staff from food and beverage stayed within the hotel for around 60 days to continue to look after our guests. The other half, who stayed at home, we were in constant communication.

Overall, the well-being of our team was good, with a positive mindset. We even conduct online activities such as baking class, yoga, etc. for our associates.  

Have you had to let any staff go?
No, we have not.

859361393.jpgURBAN Café serves modern authentic Thai cuisine

How long do you think it will take the Shanghai F&B industry to recover from the effects of the shutdown?
The whole city is looking to reopen, but with continuous new infections being reported, the confidence to return to the old way of dining and drinking may be slow to recover.  

What percentage of restaurants do you think we will see shutter for good?
It is hard to say. Some smaller eateries or restaurants have already shut down from the lockdown due to various reasons.  

Have you made any changes to your business model as a result of the recent lockdown?
We have made some concept changes, and added a beautiful new terrace for our guests to enjoy outdoor space and avoid assembling as much as possible.

Meanwhile, we have been promoting our takeout and delivery service as an additional revenue stream and to garner more exposure on our food & beverage offerings.

We are looking forward to serve our guests again very soon! 

Now that the city is opening up, aside from dining-out/ordering takeout, what can customers do to support your venues?
Share our social media posts with their friends, and of course return as soon as we are allowed to offer dine-in service.

See a listing for The Sukhothai Shanghai

[All images via The Sukhothai Shanghai]

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