Berlin Food Stories: "The industry will change, but less than we think"

Per Meurling, the man behind Berlin Food Stories is heading for pizza today!

The restaurants are allowed to open again today! Where are you heading?

"Good question. I've been thinking about that and calling restaurants to hear about their plans regarding opening. As it stands it's been very unclear who can afford to open with these restrictions. But you will probably find me in my local pizza joint called Standard Pizza, because that is the one place, I keep on going to every week. It is also the last restaurant I went to before the lockdown, so what could be a better place to return to than the one where it all started?"

How did you pass your days during the lockdown?

"75% off my days were about taking care of my small children who were not in Kindergarten. They needed my attention, and since most of my paid jobs have been on hold, and since my wife has been working, I took a lot of responsibility when it came to the kids. So, it was either spending time with them or driving around the city trying new takeout and delivery options."

Any daily routines?

"Be with the kids, go out, pick up food, eat some food in my car, take the rest home, eat it again or get good deliveries again. The restaurants have been very innovative, and my fridge has been very full since day one of the lockdown. During the nights I wrote "Lockdown Guides" and lists on the site to help restaurants to communicate their new offers. I felt that that role and responsibility fell upon me in this situation. I could contribute by driving traffic to their sites."

Did you figure out something new about yourself by being isolated?

"It's been a lot of thinking about the whole situation and the business I'm in. Should I also look into the possibility of doing something else? There have been lot of thoughts around this, but when it comes to exploring something new, it's remarkable how good one can adapt to new situations. In the beginning I couldn't see how things were going to be workable, but of course they are. I am more adaptable than I thought."

As a food expert, what difficulties will corona pose for the restaurant industry in the future, do you think?

"I've spent plenty of my time reading articles and listening to podcasts, where there has been a lot of interesting discussions. First, I was very gloomy regarding the future, but now I'm not so much. But sure, a lot of places will get out of business, but mainly the ones that weren’t doing very well before the pandemic. And restaurants that are highly dependent on tourists, they will get a hard time since there won’t be any tourists for a foreseeable future. If you can't adapt to a local crowd, you're history.

The way the local industry has adapted and how quickly they did, has been quite remarkable. From takeout to delivery, to cook at home boxes, it's been very creative in Berlin, more creative than in other cities. I'm very impressed, and I think Berlin is one of the best places to be In Europe during this crisis. That is from several standpoints. The infrastructure network, the government support and the best healthcare system in Europe. We have not been as affected as other places. The industry will change a lot but less than we think. It's gonna be different, but they will adjust their output, how you work and how you handle food. The smart ones will emerge from this alive and adapt. Many restaurants will come out alive, just in new and different shapes."

Check out @berlinfoodstories on Instagram.