The coronavirus is already having a profound impact on the food and drink industry, and we’re not just talking about it giving nightmares to the marketing heads at Corona beer. Due to people avoiding crowds, companies like Starbucks have started changing up their game with drive-through services and home deliveries through Uber Eats (available at 290 Japanese locations until the end of March.) That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Let’s turn to Twitter to see how this new pandemic is changing Japan’s restaurants and cafés.

Small Businesses are in Big Trouble

It must be annoying to not be able to find toilet paper or any kind of disinfectant at stores, right? It is if you’re a private citizen. For small restaurants, though, it’s more of a disaster as explained in a tweet by Restaurant Launa.

According to their post from March 10, the Yokosuka staple was forced to temporarily close because they weren’t able to find face masks, alcohol or disposable gloves anywhere.

Large chains can probably get enough rubber gloves to make thousands of disturbing, homemade cow costumes, and enough alcohol to make that seem like a good idea, but for local businesses, these panic shortages can be a death sentence.

Buffets Struggle to Reassure People

Buffets have a… mixed reputation when it comes to hygiene at the best of times, and these are far from the best of times. This means all-you-can-eat establishments have to work extra hard to ensure a safe environment for their customers.

As explained in a March 1 tweet from an employee at a Japan buffet restaurant, besides disinfecting the restaurant and all the utensils, they’ve also been changing the food every 30 minutes, including the tongs, and set up sanitizing stations everywhere.

In an era of people drinking supermarket soup straight from the ladle, there can never be such a thing as too careful at buffets.

The Savings Are Infectious

While smaller restaurants and cafés are struggling, bigger players are slashing prices in order to retain their customers. For example, between March 10 and 24, restaurants operated by Huge will be offering 30% discounts with all reservations. This will apply to such eateries as Rigoletto, Dazzle, Brasserie D, Modern Mexicano, Spanish, Posillipo, New American, Nabucco, Shibuichi, Modern Asian and Rigo.

A similar, more bluntly-named discount is offered by Global Dining Inc. Called the “BEAT CORONA VIRUS DISCOUNT 30% OFF,” the discount will apply at dinner time at such places as Cafe La Bohéme, Monsoon Cafe, Gonpachi, SUSHI Gonpachi, Zest Cantina, LB, BARTIZAN Bread & Pasta, Stellato, CAFE Legato, Brasserie Tableaux and L’ignis.

The popular konbini chain Lawson is also getting in on the action, offering hot milk drinks at half the price (¥65), claiming that it’s to provide affordable milk to children in the wake of the school closings. The promotion also includes ¥30 off a medium-sized café lattes, and will last until March 20.

In Times of Crisis, Look for the Helpers

As a whole, Twitter might be why aliens refuse to contact us, but it can occasionally be used for good. On March 7, editor and businessman Kosuke Minowa tweeted a message: If your hotel, inn, restaurant or other place of business is struggling, let him know and he’ll retweet you to his nearly 190,000 followers and anyone else who’s listening.

Thousands of people took him up on his offer because even if crowds are the last thing small businesses need right now, they also don’t want to be completely forgotten.

People Are Not Giving Up Hope

On March 10, the owner of a grilled meat restaurant in Akita posted a heartfelt and uplifting message about the effect the coronavirus was having on restaurants. It read:

“Our customers are worried about us, saying that ‘It must be hard’ what with all the empty tables caused by the coronavirus. When canceling their reservations, many actually apologize to us. Not to worry, though. We’ve survived earthquakes (including the 1983 Sea of Japan earthquake) and mad cow disease, etc. We’ll be alright. You don’t have to apologize to us. We won’t give up until our customers can enjoy our food with smiling faces again.”

Nothing more to add to that.

Feature photo: nicepix /