Lockdown Economy Albania in a Family-Run Restaurant with Englatin and Amada Kazaferi

The interview was transcribed by students of Epoka University

Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world. This interview was done in collaboration with Epoka University.

In this interview, we meet Englantin Kazaferi, the owner of the Restaurant IGMA, located in Durres, Albania. Their clients are mainly local habitants of the village Sukth, but there are also clients from the town Shijak, Durres and during summer foreign tourists would stop to enjoy a meal. During the lockdown, the restaurant was completely closed, and there were no customers to order out. Normally during the summertime, they would host weddings or birthday parties, but all events were prohibited. During the pandemic, the owners took the time to come up with new ideas to implement when the bar-restaurants would open. They opened a pizzeria and also started the delivery of meals. Even though they came up with new ideas, it does not bring enough income as people are not spending the same as before the pandemic.

Watch the video version of the interview.

What do you do as a business and for how long have you been doing it?

Eglantin: I am the owner of a bar-restaurant, and I have been doing this business for 27 years. Initially, the business was of my father, he is the initial founder of the business. Then I took over it and I am the current owner.

Do you have employees?

Eglantin: Since we are a family business, we have 2 persons from our family that are also employees. Also, we have 2 other persons working for us. In total there are 4 employees.

How many clients do you have normally?

Eglantin: After the lockdown, we can say that we have seen growing numbers in our daily customers. They are around 120 customers per day in our bar-restaurant in current terms.

You are saying that those customers are only for the bar and restaurant part, but you have also organized events like weddings before the pandemic. So, is it more than 120 customers that you mentioned before?

Eglantin: Before the pandemic, the customers on a normal day, on average were 120. It may also vary from 150 to 200. Referring to the question about events such as weddings, birthdays, yes we do organize them but these are very rare.

Focusing more on the pandemic, what did you do for your business during the lockdown? What have you tried to stimulate the business and attract more customers?

Eglantin: During the lockdown, everything was closed. There were no customers in the restaurant or in the bar. After May the 18th, that Albania ended its lockdown, I decided to expand the business opening a pizzeria and also making deliveries. Food that was prepared in the restaurant was delivered to the customers’ houses. I also organized some events in houses and in the open area of the restaurant with small groups of people because it was not allowed for us to have events inside.

I wanted to ask you how is the business doing now? Have you reached the state before the pandemic or are you still stuck?

Eglantin: The business is for sure damaged, the customers were not coming during the pandemic because of the fear. The activity in the business is in half of what it was before the pandemic, it is more difficult now to be in business than it was pre-pandemic.

Do you know how your customers and competition are doing? Is it the same situation for every business?

Eglantin: As far as I have heard, even other businesses doing the same business as me are facing the same difficulties.

So, you mean that it is the same situation for every business in your niche. Every bar-restaurant business is facing difficulties in attracting customers and doing business?

Eglantin: Yes, exactly.

What is the outlook on the coming few months? Will it become better or worse in your thinking?

Eglantin: We are hopeful that the situation will become better during the Spring and Summer because generally there are more customers in that period. But, it will still be difficult as the pandemic has affected the economy as a whole.

We would like to tell us the three things you need help with or will need in the future.

Eglantin: The first thing that I need help with is regarding the insurance of the employees that work with us because it is very difficult to cover their insurance.

What about other things?

Eglantin: The second thing that would be very helpful would be to lower the taxes for one or two years that will allow the business to recover.

So, you think to postpone the taxes for one or two years would be very good for the small businesses?

Eglantin: Yes, exactly anything would help us right now.

Would you like to mention one last thing?

Eglantin: It would be good to have a monthly wage.

So you need help from the government to give you monthly wages because you are not generating enough profits to pay your employees?

Eglantin: Yes, that is exactly my thoughts.

Is there anything that you would like to add regarding to the help that we can give you? Do you have an Instagram or Facebook account that you can be promoted and help you?

Eglantin: Yes, we have and that would be very helpful for our business.

About the Guest

Eglantin Kazaferi has been the owner and the manager of Restaurant IGMA for many years. His father founded this business 27 years ago and they have been managing it together and growing it day by day. Eglantin has been taking care of all daily business operations, such as inventory, human resources, public relations and marketing, making sure that the business is running smoothly and fulfilling its aim. The purpose of Bar Restaurant IGMA is to serve food of the best quality and make their customers keep coming back.

https://www.facebook.com/BarRestorantIgma

The UN-registered nonprofit social initiative that helps small businesses and self-employed professionals to overcome the challenges of the pandemic.