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Cell phone in hand, Romain Rozier welcomes us in the entrance of his deserted restaurant. Looking serious, he compulsively responds to yet another message. “Since this morning, on WhatsApp loops, it has not stopped. Everyone is appalled by the bad news ( Editor’s note: the probable postponement of the opening of restaurants, hoped for January 20, by Emmanuel Macron ) ”, Apologizes the 43-year-old entrepreneur, who in 2016 opened a flourishing“ salad bar ”of 180 square meters a stone’s throw from the Jaurès metro station, in the north-east of Paris (19th century).
“At first, it worked very hard. We were the only ones to offer food healthy (Editor’s note: balanced) at a reasonable price, in the middle of kebabs and Chinese restaurants. The employees of the offices opposite loved it, came several times a week, ”he recalls, nostalgic. The first confinement and the development of teleworking went through this. The regulars at lunchtime have deserted their offices and, at the same time, Romain’s establishment, which served with a shovel fresh beet juice and poke bowl filled with vegetables, seeds and fresh cheese.
Restaurants closed: “I can still last a month and a half, no more …”
80% less turnover
The first months of the epidemic, the restaurateur held firm. It has placed five of its six employees on short-time work and reduced the sails. “In August, I even tried to reopen in the evening for a drink, but it didn’t take. Jaurès has become a Sunday district. From now on, I stop everything at 4 pm. “. He lost 80% of his turnover, going from 120 covers each day to around 20 take-out meals.
The € 10,000 in state aid he has been receiving for three months and the few meals he prepares for the click and collect, alone every noon, do not allow him to go up the slope. “What plagues me are the fixed charges. I have a beautiful boat, but it still needs to be maintained! “He admits bitterly, listing the” 3600 € rent to be released each month “that he could not honor last spring and that he continues to reimburse today. Not to mention electricity, employers’ contributions, mutual insurance companies for its employees and the small part of the salaries that it must nevertheless continue to support. “The state only compensates up to 84% of the salaries of my employees,” he recalls.
“People tell me to reinvent myself”
As a result, he can no longer project himself. “This artistic vagueness will no longer be possible. I am angry and very worried. In one to two months, I will have to lower the curtain, ”he laments. Already, two of his “friends” have gone bankrupt. “In Paris, those who survive are the small structures that have low costs. For the big guys who work a lot at lunchtime, like me, it’s very hard ”.
Romain Rozier demonstrated for the first time in December. He’s ready to start over. Does he plan to change activity? “It would be necessary but me, I am from Auvergne, I love food, I love to cook, I only know how to do that”, launches the one who opened his first business at 24 years old. “People tell me to reinvent myself,” he continues dubiously. They are funny people. We can adapt, but how can we reinvent ourselves? A restaurant is a restaurant. “