Major restaurants to remain open amid COVID-19 concerns

One of the country’s largest restaurant and hospitality service providers is prepared to “take whatever losses” that occur during an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in The Bahamas.

Tony and Johnny Skandaliaris, the owners of Titan Hospitality – which has seven restaurants throughout The Bahamas and provides airline catering and event planning services – said the company has already seen a slowdown in business.

“We’re planning on remaining open for as long as we can remain open. We don’t plan on laying off any staff, whether it’s one month or two months or three months, whatever this thing is. Obviously, people have to stay home because most of our employees are on gratuities and tips and all that, but we plan on laying nobody off. We plan on seeing it through,” Johnny Skandaliaris said in an interview with Guardian Business.

Tony Skandaliaris added, “Well we’re doing it in stages. Stage one, we’re going to cut back on the work week to try and

accommodate everyone. Rather than laying anybody off, we’re trying to give everybody at least a few days’ work so that they can generate some cash. And then we’re kind of in a wait and see of how bad it’s going to get, what the government is going to require from us. We don’t know if the government is going to respond like the United States and do mandatory closures, but as far as we’re concerned we’re going to ride it out until we can’t anymore.”

The first reported case of COVID-19 in The Bahamas was announced on Sunday.

Titans Hospitality owns and manages Meze Grill, The Swimming Pig, Smugglers, Wreckers, Chippy’s Fish N’ Chips, Latitudes, Titan Inflight and Titan Hospitality Events.

The brothers said the main focus for the company right now is ensuring the health and safety of staff and ensuring they are prepared for the possibility of business closure.

“As of last week, we went through training with the staff to sanitize much more frequently all the work stations. We have cleaning crews in every restaurant wiping down with bleach and whatsoever. Every half hour we have a cleaning crew going around. We have designated people to do just cleaning because business has slowed down anyway. Pretty much reminding them to be proactive,” Johnny Skandaliaris said.

“I think they all realize that business is going to drop heavy, but we are also on a personal level trying to alert them to what’s coming. You know some people just don’t want to believe anything until it comes and then there’s shock. So just more on a personal level to let them know, guys prepare for this.”

Both men said they are very concerned about what’s happening in the hospitality industry based on what’s happening the world over.

As cases climb to as high as 175,000 worldwide, with more than 6,000 deaths, the United States has taken drastic measures to combat the virus, including urging bars, restaurants and gyms to close voluntarily for at least two weeks.

“We’re trying as hard as possible and we’re just waiting on the government’s instructions on how to proceed in our industry,” Tony Skandaliaris said.

Johnny Skandaliaris added, “If you look all over the world, you look at Italy, you look at Europe, it couldn’t get any worse. The ideal thing would be to close the doors and wait, but we have a lot of staff. So, we’re going to lose what we have to lose until the time comes to reopen. Our team is one of the better teams in The Bahamas, so we’re just going to ride it through.”

“The hospitality industry, which includes taxi drivers, people working on the beach, waiters, waitresses, managers, it’s a disaster pretty much.

“After 9/11 you didn’t have every cruise ship cancelled, after 9/11 you didn’t have any travel bans for The Bahamas, you just had better airport screening, people were just afraid to fly. Now you have a complete ban on this, ban on that. If you wanted to report an equivalent to 9/11, it’s probably ten times worse than 9/11.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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