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Why dining-in service is off the table for one iconic Sydney takeaway chain

Source: Facebook

The owner of one of Sydney’s most iconic takeaway chains says he will not be offering a dine-in option just yet despite the easing of restrictions across most states and territories.

Andre Sephan, the owner of the well-known Lebanese charcoal chicken chain El Jannah says his restaurants will be sticking to takeaway and delivery services only for the time being, despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions on Friday.

In NSW, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, and Tasmania hospitality venues will be limited to 10 customers, as long as there is 1.5 metres between tables.

Mr Sephan says it’s not feasible for his restaurants to offer a dine-in option for only 10 customers.

"Ten people is not enough, we will not be able to make changes for only ten people,” he tells SBS Arabic24

“We need to provide customers with a different kind of service, and this [number] is not enough.

“We will not be able to bring employees only for this number [of customers]. Even if they increase the number of to 20, this number will also not work for us. In order for the restaurant to operate profitably, it must be more than 20 customers."

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The El Jannah chain includes seven restaurants, the most famous of which are located in the western Sydney suburbs of Granville and Blacktown, which can both seat more than 100 customers.

As expected, those restaurants have suffered due to the restrictions that were imposed more than two months ago.

“When the dining area was closed in the restaurants, the demand decreased, but thank God the business was able to continue well.”

Mr Sephan says his restaurants have suffered a combined decrease of 40 per cent during the opening stages of the restrictions, but he affirms that demand has gradually picked up to settle now at 20 per cent less than the numbers prior to the pandemic.

"We needed less workers with the closure of the eat-in area. We tried to find other jobs for those workers, but some of them decided to leave."

The chain’s restaurant in the inner-west suburb of Newtown, which opened two months before the pandemic hit, has experienced a surprising increase in business.

“Its sales increased at the time of the virus, we had no problem with this branch. The sales increased by almost 20 per cent because it did not have a dine-in area, and the demand for takeaway increased because restaurants operating in the area decreased."

Mr Sephan and his wife Carole opened their flagship eatery at Granville in 1998 and they later opened at nearby Punchbowl.

Restaurants and cafes in Western Australia will be permitted to open to 20 customers at a time from Monday.

In South Australia, only outdoor dining is allowed.

Victoria currently has no plans to reopen restaurants under stage one of the federal government’s three-step roadmap out of the restrictions.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

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