The impact of COVID-19 has been different in Portugal: if on the one hand, in the coastal zone and in main cities it has been a real disaster for Tourism and Hospitality, the center of Portugal has not seen such a long development in a long time, with regard to the search for accommodation and restaurant reservations. Most businessmen consider that they cannot survive this pandemic without help from the Portuguese Government.
Chef Rui Paula – Owner of the two Michelin Stars restaurant “Casa de Chá da Boa Nova”
Chef Rui Paula, awarded with two Michelin stars, owner of “Casa de Chá da Boa Nova”, a restaurant in the very fine area of Leça da Palmeira city, right next to Porto, states that “the year is always lost when I had three restaurants closed for two and a half months”. One of the Chef’s strategies for captivating the Portuguese public to frequent his restaurants is “continue to make good food, with very clear roots and well-defined concepts”. It further says that “In my opinion, many companies are going to close down, some have already been poorly managed (…). A restaurant that focused solely on tourists, its days are numbered, the proof of this is that the restaurants that already had Portuguese customers and focused on local customers are the ones that survive. We do not have Brazilians, Americans and Asians, these were a good guarantee for the restoration and were excellent tourists due to their economic power and in fact they cannot visit us. Difficult times are coming, so we can count on”. Noélia Jerónimo, “the cooker of Portuguese VIP stars” as she is called, who owns Noélia & Jerónimo Restaurant, in the heart of south Algarve (in other times searched by tourists in summer), does not hesitate to assume that this was “the worst summer ever”. Victim of Covid-19, who forced her to keep the restaurant closed for longer than she counted, she emotionally assumes that she managed to reopen doors, while affirming that the year “is lost in commercial terms”. She welcomes the support and demand after the reopening, but it is not enough to end the year with a positive current account.
Noélia Jerónimo – Owner of a restaurant in her own name, and also a victim of COVID-19
At the other point of Portugal, at north, in city of Bragança, 25 minutes until reaching Spain, another Michelin Chef António Gonçalves, manager of “G Restaurante”, prefers another line of thought: “It is not a lost year, it is a postponed year, in which all of us, restorers and hoteliers, will have to deal with a new reality adapted to business (…). The main lesson to be learned from these pandemic months is that tourist Portugal found itself discovering its interior territory and showing that it is possible to create new sustainable and alternative tourist cycles, from reservoirs in interior to small river beaches. It is necessary to target more offers to the Portuguese and, at the same time, create spaces and teams to the dimension of the national market l.” In order to counter the negative balance, Chef António decided to take a risk and open another restaurant also in Bragança.
Chef António Gonçalves – owner of one Michelin star restaurant in interior of Portugal