As general manager for one of the island’s most iconic restaurants, Bambuddha, Jonjon Moon was in the thick of pre-opening preparations in March when the news of the pandemic sweeping the world became apparent it would not exclude the island of Ibiza. Although he spent much of his life divided between Amsterdam and Ibiza (“I’ve spent every summer of my life here.”) – where his father John Moon originally opened the restaurant – Jonjon has worked at Bambuddha since he was just 14 years old. In 2015, he successfully took over the reins of the family business, but obviously had no idea of the unprecedented challenges that would hit the restaurant further down the line.
“I didn’t really take any time off during the winter, as we’d made a change last year and decided to stay open until new year,” he says. “With only a few months in between closing and re-opening, we were already really busy.” As one of the first seasonal restaurants to open each year, the Bambuddha opening party is often considered the ‘unofficial’ start to the pre-season for many residents. Originally scheduled for May 11 – just three days prior to lockdown – Jonjon realised it would need to be postponed. “Even when COVID-19 was about, but before the lockdown was even a consideration, we were already considering how to open, and to what extent. We knew it would affect us.”
Describe your Ibiza lockdown situation?
I live in an apartment with my partner, who works remotely from home. When we’re not working, we’ll watch TV or play board or card games. Individually, when we need some time apart, I’ll play on the PlayStation and she’ll do something creative, like paint.
Did you expect the Ibiza lockdown to be as lengthy and restrictive as it has been?Definitely not – not up until about a week before lockdown, when it started to get serious in Italy. When it became a global pandemic, I completely understood the measurements the government put in place. Spain has taken much more extreme measures than other countries – let’s hope it pays off!
What’s your daily life been like?
I still spent quite a bit of time working. In the first couple of months I was trying to plan things for when we could open, to ensure we would be able to open as soon as possible, and as safely as possible. Bambuddha re-opened on May 23, 2020, as the island went into Phase One of the government’s de-escalation plan, but under very strict regulations.
How are you feeling on a personal level right now?
Most days are good, but some days can be a bit weird. I’ll definitely be happy when we can start to have some normal activities back in our lives.
Who or what do you miss most during lockdown?
A bit of face to face interaction, and going out to restaurants.
What’s been most the challenging thing for you throughout this experience?
The uncertainty and negativity of it all. It’s a serious matter, but some good news and a plan would be nice right now. Obviously it’s a lot to ask for, as something like this hasn’t happened in modern times.
Has there been anything about the lockdown that you’ve enjoyed?
Enjoyed isn’t quite the right word, but I have been catching up with certain projects that I’ve postponed for ages.
How do you keep in touch with the outside world?
I spend a lot more time speaking with family and friends. We never used to do video calls at all, but now we do them a lot more.
What’s made you laugh during this time?
People doing Tik-Tok videos, us included!
How is your general health and wellbeing right now?
I stopped going to the gym and spend a lot of time sitting down, so not great. I’ve probably gone the wrong way physically!
What are you eating habits like these days?
Drinking a little more than normal but eating healthy, and cooking creatively!
How do you feel Ibiza has come together (while staying apart) as a community during lockdown?
It’s been pretty good here. I live in Talamanca/Botafoch, and when the 8pm clapping started I thought there would be no chance of hearing anyone, but it’s been quite impressive. We don’t have a lot of cases on the island, and people are mainly following the rules and not complaining too much. Recently people were starting to question why we are all still locked down as there were only around 40 active cases, but after the first Sunday children were allowed out, followed by adults being allowed to go for a walk a week later, it definitely took the edge off. The easing of the lockdown has been great.
Do you feel safe here in Ibiza? Or would you rather be locked down somewhere else in the world?
I feel super safe here, compared to the rest of Spain, however, some countries, like Holland, have taken a more laid-back approach and it appears to be under control there.
How has the lockdown impacted your work/business/industry?
Extremely, our opening was setback, and for a long time we didn’t if there would be any limitations to the extent of which we can open, and when tourism, national or international, will start again. We were delighted when we were told we could open on Monday May 23, even with these heavy guidelines! We not only understand, but support them too. We’ve actually been going further with certain rules, such as instead of leaving a two-metre distance between tables, we’re putting three-metres between them so guests can feel extra safe. The last thing we want is to go back into lockdown.
What are your hopes for Ibiza in the future?
Just that we can get the summer started as soon as possible. I think (hope) everything will get back to normal as soon as the government allows business to run as normal.