The pandemic's media coverage has been dominated by ambulances rushing with lights and sirens, medics dressed as astronauts, or endless political discourse. The ongoing project, "Silesian Lockdown" aims to give a voice to ordinary people who have been suffering economically from the pandemic, people who do not know what tomorrow will look like.
The pandemic has hit us hard, some less, others more so. The degree of harm depends on many factors - including occupation or country of residence. Sadly, also the whole food chain has been affected. One of the affected groups is the owners of small restaurants that have remained closed for months in Poland. Since the decision has been made to close restaurants, bars, clubs, and more, people don't see empty tables behind drawn blinds, and most of all don't see the despondency of the owners.
Adam and Maciej spent almost three years renovating an establishment in Katowice's city center to start their dream restaurant offering Silesian specialty- sausage. In December 2020, they finished the costly renovation in December 2020. The renovated premises stand empty; Adam and Maciej are trying to salvage their business and investment by selling takeout.
Bożena, Szymon, and Tomek rented an ample space for a restaurant in the center of Gliwice in 2017. They spent two years doing renovations, hired 20 people, and finally opened the restaurant in March 2019, exactly one year before the first lockdown. Now IBU Craft Beer is closed again, and employees have found work elsewhere, including at Amazon. "Even if the current lockdown passes, employees may be afraid to return to the foodservice industry; they will be afraid of more lockdowns. It will be difficult to rebuild our large team," Bozena says.
Robert has run a pub since 2013. He used to offer beer exclusively from independently-owned European and American breweries. Since the second lockdown in Poland in October 2020, he has only been able to sell beer for takeaway, but this barely covers the cost of day-to-day operations. He is so distraught by the situation that he “doesn't even feel like cleaning." He's not optimistic - according to Robert, people got used to not spending time together. “They have learned, especially the younger ones, to do most of the activities over the Internet. We are told that personal contact is dangerous and it will stay that way - people will avoid people. I hope I'm wrong."
Joanna, Grzegorz, and Michał had to give up their restaurant in Katowice's center in January 2021 and lay off four people. The other restaurant - near Wroclaw's Market Square - remains closed and is being used to rent as a coworking space. "We've been at war for a year, and it's not clear with whom," Joanna notes. "It's emotionally difficult. There's less and less optimism."
All photographs by Grzegorz Lityński, www.litynski.com.