Tik Chawee thought diversifying her businesses would keep her on firm financial footing for life. Then came the coronavirus.
Tik, whose proper name is Chaweewan Phoothaworn, owns Pattaya’s popular Tulip House restaurant with her Dutch husband Mathieu Corporaal. Together they also operate a guest house and travel agency. All three have been closed or severely impacted by Thailand’s Covid-19 economic shutdown.
“Tourism really peaked more than seven years ago,” she said from her newly reopened eatery on Jomtien Beach Road at Soi 9. Back then, she said, her businesses earned tens or hundreds of thousands of baht a day. Tourists and expats from the Netherlands and Sweden were 85 percent of her customers and she had nearly 300 regular customers.
Today the guest house has only a few rooms occupied, the travel agency is closed and the restaurant is struggling. It has reopened, but rules against restaurants selling alcohol, plus social distancing restrictions, has kept the customers away.
During the shutdown, she kept the kitchen open selling food via delivery apps, but their large commission plus the discounts she had to give on food left her with no profit. She had to reduce staff, but instead of laying off people she had them work in rotations so that everyone got at least a small paycheck every month.
Despite the adversity, Chaweewan remains optimistic. This, too, will pass, she believes and international tourists and many of her old customers will return … someday.
Until then, she’s opening the restaurant from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and selling clothes and other items online to bring in income until business recovers.