Abba Napa and Ana De Ocampo Talk About Running F&B Operations During Quarantine in Metro Manila

During the Philippine enhanced community quarantine, food and beverage establishments can only do delivery and pick-up but absolutely no dine-in. As time went on more and more restaurants started to figure out how to best their logistical hurdles and began joining in feeding the Filipino people. From the start however, Wildflour and The Moment Group (TMG) were amongst the few who had kept their F&B operations alive —their kitchens were revved and ready for action.

The back-end operations to me, seem quite intense and difficult from transportation to purchasing logistics and let us not forget the fact that these restaurants were not set up to work as take-out facilities. They must now get used to a large influx of unprecedented customer service engagement. Aside from understanding the dynamics, more importantly, this article serves to highlight the hard work that every F&B establishment has been putting in day in and day out in order to give us all delicious food. Thank you for feeling many homes during this trying time! 

I talk to Ana De Ocampo, CEO and president of the Wildflour Group and Abba Nppa, Creative Director of The Moment Group to learn more about what it takes to run multiple restaurants during this time with unprecedented challenges.

I’m confident Wildflour will survive this ordeal, and once we do, our restaurant and the hardworking team behind it will come out stronger and able to handle anything that comes our way.

Ana De Ocampo

A Responsibility To Nourish

This is an incredibly difficult time, so why go through the trouble and extra expenses or headaches in order to stay open? 

Wildflour, a personal favourite, has kept key locations operational in order to service both bakery and savory meal orders. “We decided to continue service because we thought it best to use whatever means we had to serve the community that has been so good and loyal to us, all these years” shares Ana. 

The group had also recently launched Wildflour To-Go, their first in-house online delivery platform, just a month before the lockdown commenced – and now it has certainly been tested through trial by fire! Ana elaborates by telling me that she saw this as an opportunity to serve the community in these trying times by making it as convenient as possible for people to have quality food delivered. One of her goals is to offer substantial, well-balanced options as opposed to fast or canned food that many are reliant on now that it can be quite difficult to go to the supermarket to find fresh produce. “So far it’s been a great learning experience for the business, and has pushed us to expand beyond what we are used to” Ana adds.

Enhanced Sanitation

Now that social distancing is the norm and isolation has become commonplace, I wondered how food is being prepared at restaurants and what the sanitation process is like. At both Wildflour and TMG restaurants, they have imposed stricter sanitation guidelines than usual in addition to social distancing measures and the mandate of frequent hand-washing and disinfecting.

For Ana’s team at Wildflour, the wearing of face masks at all times is a must as well body temperature checks, three times a day. Over at TMG, Abba says that everybody must complete a daily health check before coming into work and that there are food safety and sanitation policies in place that are meticulously followed from the time a team member enters their shops.

Every transaction at both restaurant groups is now as contactless as possible, from ordering to payment to hand-off with delivery partners.The goal is no-touch interactions between staff and delivery couriers. There is extra effort placed in disinfecting every item that is used too—from menus, trays, to cash registers—so that the food prepared stays as clean as can be. What used to be second nature and a down-pat easy skill, is now cumbersome and significantly more tedious, but Wildflour and TMG alike understand that it matters and it will make all the difference.

How Are Staff Getting To Work?

Wildflour has assembled a team of staff that live closer to BGC and Makati for ease of mobility to their open branches. Ana provides transportation by personally picking up employees from where they live, or by organising a meeting point every morning for a carpool and the same is done when it’s time to go home. “I’m confident Wildflour will survive this ordeal, and once we do, our restaurant and the hardworking team behind it will come out stronger and able to handle anything that comes our way” Ana proclaims. 

A Learning Experience

Ana tells me that this situation has further emphasised the importance of adapting, communicating and coordinating. She expounds saying their teams work from different locations but continue to collaborate to make sure everything from management, purchasing, production, and deliveries continue to work like a well-oiled machine. Wildflour takes Mondays to meet and assemble a plan of action for the week via Zoom. They push each other to exchange ideas, troubleshoot, and discuss all aspects of operations in order to improve. “As we monitor the situation, we continue to take things day-by-day given the very unique situation we are all experiencing” Ana comments.

How Long Can This Be Sustained?

Both these ultra successful restaurant groups face the hurdles of sourcing their needed ingredients amidst a lockdown and protecting their staff. Ana believes that Wildflour will be able to continue with the current scaled back operations for a month or more and says: “I’m confident Wildflour will survive this ordeal, and once we do, our restaurant and the hardworking team behind it will come out stronger and able to handle anything that comes our way.” 

Source: The Philippine Tatler

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