Restaurant Kome has been open now for 7 years on Curaçao. Food lovers can daily enjoy the diverse lunch and dinner menu. What makes Kome different from all the other restaurants on the island is that the dishes are carefully arranged from the preparation of the ingredients to the presentation. Eating at Kome is an experience in itself. The restaurant is tastefully designed and the service here is on par with international four-star restaurants. Kome is a restaurant that you go to for special occasions, for business or private. In the end, you go home satisfied.
We can, therefore, say that the closing of Kome during the lockdown was a loss for many. After the lockdown was lifted, we went to visit Kome and spoke to the manager Luuk Gerrittsen.
Luuk has, with great pleasure, been the manager of Kome for 4 years now. He was born and raised in the Netherlands. He is married to an Antillean, has a daughter who is 5 years old and a dog.
Luuk, what were your thoughts when the Prime Minister announced on Match 13th 2020 that the borders were closing due to the worldwide spread of COVID-19?
We had already seen it coming. It was naïve to think that the virus would pass us, or not hit us economically. Together with the owners, we discussed the possible scenarios and how we, as a business, could respond with alternatives.
What are the consequences of the closure of the borders on your company? From having no income overnight.
With the closing of the borders, we felt that impact of it right away. In the past four years, we have seen a shift in our customers from 70% locals to 70% tourists. Especially tourists from America like to eat with us. The first two weeks were very strange. To gain a little income, we started with a Take Out & Delivery until the complete lock-down and we also had to close. The owner then spoke to all 22 employees and presented the choice to them whether they would stay or leave voluntarily. A few employees have left and meanwhile have life the island. We had, before the lockdown, employees of 9 different nationalities that was very special. The owners are very involved and are present in the restaurant every day. With our remaining employees, we try to divide the hours as much as possible so that everyone can do something.
What has changed for you, personally?
Mainly a lot of uncertainty for myself and my family. Fortunately, I have a good employer, which is nice. My partner is also lucky with her employer, financially we are okay. However, you do feel responsible for your colleagues and the owner.
We also have a daughter who is 5 and for her there is also uncertainty with regards to the opening of schools. She should be able to go to school again on the 1st of June for another month. I must say that during the lock-down I have never spent so much time with her, which is very nice.
What positive effects do you think the pandemic had on society?
What I noticed is that people are looking at local businesses again. Young entrepreneurs, the hip 30-ers, who work a lot together, for example Number 10 and Hofi Cas Cora. Everyone orders together to support each other, for as long as possible. In addition, this is also a good time to adjust the bad habits we have, now you have time to!