TLDR: 75% of our people are still out of work, we need your help, and buy something from our new online shop to help support us!
Everyone who runs a restaurant will tell you the same thing: don’t.
Pay is crap, hours are long, and competition is ruthless. Unfortunately, the fairy tale montage of a beaming dining room basking in the sunlight full of warm, smiling people is more ruse than reality—instead, try visualizing a soggy sponge on the kitchen floor. (Smell it as well for the full experience.)
However. As bleak and punishing as the industry is, we’ve managed to stand strong for 7 years now. It’s always been tough, but somehow, we’ve always found a way to make it through.
This time it looks different.
Running a restaurant has always felt like trying to milk a cow with steel udders. But with the jaws of the quarantine at full grip, that nice cow is now an angry, muscular bull, and it’s trying to crack our skulls.
Right now, I’m sad to say that Lowbrow can no longer support the livelihoods of our people. Since the beginning of this mess, I’ve funneled 100% of my pay to our team, asked for donations, and granted hundreds of thousands in loans but it’s still not enough. These days, nothing seems to be.
This situation isn’t unique to us—all of us restaurants are in the same boat waiting for a murky future. Some are lucky to have deep pockets and mighty connections, but we don’t. We rely on our savings to keep on going— but once that’s gone, we’re done. Survival means we need to stop bleeding money, and one critical way to do that hurts more than others: stop paying our people.
I do not know the full extent of people’s hardships and I’m not going to pretend I do. But in Manila, how much time are you going to give an unemployed restaurant worker before they come running to the pawnshop with everything they got? And what if they have kids? How many people can they turn to?
It’s tough but I don’t want to dwell too much on the nasty situation we’re in—while it feels justified, it’s not helping anyone. Today, we need to pick ourselves up, start finding ways to grease our wheels, and start getting people back to work as soon as we can. That means finding paying customers as fast as possible.
The good news is that we’ve opened most of our stores so far for delivery. (Despite the difficulties in transportation, we had plenty of our people who were eager to start working!) The bad news is that we’re still only employing just 25% of our entire workforce. Most of our guys are still left unemployed wondering when they can go back to work—or if they ever will.
This is where we need your support.
We’ve set up a shop where you can purchase gift cards that come with huge bonuses that we’ve never offered before. We’ve also thrown in some nice merchandise (with designs frequently requested by our customers) that we’ve never released before as an added gift. Of course we’re aware that we’re not a charity, so we’re making sure it’s still a great deal for you.
If you’d like to support us, buy something!
Gift cards help us tremendously because we get to use cash upfront (and we can fulfill the service later) so we can temporarily bridge our cashflow gap as we saw 80% of our revenue sucked into the void. We’ll be using the money we raise to find ways to get people back to work as soon as we can. The more we can raise, the more people we can support.
I’ve held off on asking for assistance because I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do. All of us are in a dumpster fire right now—some burning more furiously than others. And what makes us so special that we deserve to raise funds while others suffer? But my ruminations can wait: surely, it doesn’t feel right sitting here doing nothing. Maybe some good souls out there would like to help, so I’m taking my chances.
Long-term, I think things will get better. In a year or two, we’ll likely find ourselves back to how things were, but I can’t expect everyone to picture that reality. To those who are budgeting whether they can afford to buy a can of sardines for their next meal, or gritting their teeth at the hypothetical thought of a single hospital bill, optimism can sound unreasonable. Messages of hope can only go so far—I want to help put food on the table.
If you’re in a better place and would like to extend support, I ask again, kindly buy something from our shop! 🙏
Regardless, thank you for hearing me out. It’s a tough time, but we’ll make it through one way or another.
Dwight Co, Managing Partner
PS. Visit our shop and buy something! 😀