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Imalink gives a boost to local hospitality industry

An Interview with Isabelle De Meyer

Immediately after the announced HoReCa lockdown 2.0, Imalink CEO Isabelle De Meyer, herself living in Lochristi, matured the idea of supporting the affected restaurants and cafés with an online portal for takeaway. And so it happened. Monday morning, after a flash consultation with her Team Imalink, our Digital Communication and Social Media business unit got to work. The Facebook group "Lochristi takes out" went live an hour later. Barely 24 hours later, the group reached 1000 members. At the time of going to press, the counter stood at 1851. The number of members and participating HoReCa businesses in Lochristi and beyond continues to grow by the minute. Such an initiative with such an impact deserves some explanation from the initiator and CEO of Imalink.

Imalink steekt lokale horeca een hart onder de riem
What is the purpose of the facebook group Lochristi takes out? What do you wish to achieve with it?

IsabelleWhen I heard the news of the second HoReCa lock-down, I was sitting with my husband Arne and COO at Imalink in a local restaurant waiting for our appetiser. The news hit the managers and their staff like a bomb. That immediately set me thinking, with this group as a result. A portal offered completely free of charge to the affected business owners and the Lochristians who traditionally like to eat out.

With this I would like to give all restaurant owners in Lochristi a shot in the arm. I believe that it is more virtuous for every passionate cook to keep working with take away and still try to limit the damage.

So it's only the hospitality sector from Lochristi who posts in the group?

Isabelle: That was initially the intention, yes. But after a few hours, the first post came from a restaurant outside of Lochristi. However, we absolutely cannot and do not want to exclude these people and we have therefore adapted our target group. What was initially intended only for HoReCa businesses in Lochristi, is now open to Lochristi and the surrounding area. After all, we want to support really everyone everyone, who is affected by this HoReCa lock down 2.0.

What brought you to the idea of setting up this Facebook group?

Isabelle: Arne and I are foodies ourselves and regularly visit restaurants and brasseries. Seeing our favorite addresses close down required quite some adjustment from our part. During the first lockdown, Arne immediately got creative with our pots and pans, but we missed the convenience and deliciousness of the real thing. Taking away quickly became a worthy alternative to chatting in a restaurant after a hard day's work.

Even now during the second closing, we want to take away again. However, it is not immediately clear which businesses offer take away and at what times this is possible.

That, along with the belief that our local HoReCa could use some support from Lochristians, led me to "Lochristi takes out."

Lochristi takes out
The group already has about 2,000 members. Did you expect it to go so fast?

Isabelle: No, not at all (laughs). What I did know is confirmed here; Lochristi is a warm-hearted municipality, a beautiful community where residents support each other time and again.

Are you thinking about taking more such actions in the future?

Isabelle: It's hard for me to say right now. This idea also just crossed my mind so who knows, other initiatives may follow. Arne and me will always be willing to help where possible. But let us hope that this does not happen too often.

Do you have a message for restaurant owners and other entrepreneurs in these bizarre times?

Isabelle: Keep busy! And above all, do what makes you happy! This will prevent you from falling into a black hole and losing motivation when the crisis passes and the economy rebounds. Yes we can! Or as Arne likes to quote Karel Popper: optimism is a moral duty.

Would you like to join this group? Click here and become a member 🥳

Team Imalink