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Quest Means Business

The Best of Quest: Voices Of Resilience; Downton Abbey's Highclere Castle Welcomes Back Visitors; Tavern In Georgia Saved By Community; Danish Hair Salon Gets Creative To Survive Lockdown; Empire State Building Renovates During Lockdown. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 24, 2021 - 15:30   ET




RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Hark, you can feel the holiday spirit everywhere.

Hello. And welcome to this special holiday edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'm Richard Quest in London.

If 2020 was about lockdowns and restrictions, 2021 is about reopening and resilience.

So over the course of the program, we'll meet the voices of the crisis, who we met at the worst, and see how they're doing today. They followed that

famous mantra, never let a good crisis go to waste.


Let us start here in England. Highclere Castle, to be precise. Better known to you and me as Downton Abbey.

It was during 2020 that we met the current occupant, Lady Fiona, who told us about the difficulties they were facing at Highclere, which is such a

tourist favorite.

But Lady Carnarvon made me a promise. She said, if I visited, I could have afternoon tea.

So in better times, I turned up.

How else are you going to arrive at Highclere Castle?

Come on.


(voice-over): Highclere Castle has stood more than 300 years. Yet, the world knows this place better as Downton Abbey, home to Lord and Lady

Grantham. It's exactly the same as it is on the telly.



QUEST (voice-over): The real Granthams, if you will, are actually earl and countess of Carnarvon.

LADY FIONA: So that is my husband in the queen's arms here. She's just gotten --


QUEST (on camera): Yes.

(voice-over): Highclere has been the family seat since the 17th century, during two world wars, and now included.

In the early pandemic, we spoke to Lady Carnarvon from Highclere when she was one of our voices of the crisis.

LADY FIONA: Like many other businesses, it's incredibly tough times. I mean, we've all fallen over a cliff.

QUEST (on camera): What did you promise me?

LADY FIONA: I promised you afternoon tea.

QUEST: And you're as good as your word.

(voice-over): Oh, tea at Downton. I have to remember not to call the butler, Carson. But to be honest, he's used to it.

CARSON, BUTLER AT HIGHCLERE CASTLE: I am the butler of Downton. My name is Carson.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: How do you do, Mr. Carson.

QUEST (on camera): When we spoke last year, you were in the process of working out ways to get the movement happening again. How bad did it get?

LADY FIONA: I think it got -- when it got to zero income, which for any business is really bad, because obviously the bills continue to come and

continue to be there. So like other businesses, working out what we could do, what's possible.

QUEST: It was going to get worse?

LORD GEORGE HERBERT, EARL OF CARNARVON: It was very, very difficult. People of the world were on furlough, coming again and having to go away again.

LADY FIONA: I think we were all frightened for our health, for those we love, frightened for our business, frightened for what we built up, and

frightened for the future.

QUEST (voice-over): Keeping Highclere in good shape is a constant struggle.

LADY FIONA: It's an extraordinary building. And I don't know if we'd have the craftsman today to make it.

QUEST: The eighth earl of Carnarvon inherited the castles from his father 20 years ago.

(on camera): I mean, oh, it's very beautiful, isn't it? Look at it.

LADY FIONA: We did used to wake up in the middle of the night and I would go and get a cup of tea, thinking, what do we do?

QUEST (voice-over): The landed gentry in England are used to this tug of war between keeping the heritage and managing to pay the bills.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Will the staff stay? Will the funds pay? What are we going to do about the roof?

QUEST: Lady Mary would be proud of the way the real countess views the business.

LADY FIONA: There's no secret pot of gold. What we do here every month, pays the salary and the mortgages.

EARL GEORGE HERBERT: Yes, it's good for a romantic look at it. But it it's only there for so many -


LADY FIONA: Working and bringing some money in.

I've always remembered that sales are vanity, profits are sanity, and I don't want to be a busy fool.


QUEST: The Carnarvons run their home like a business. And that means working all hours to make the castle and its grounds profitable to keep the


LADY FIONA: The former estate of 45,000 acres. And within that, we've got about 2,000 acres growing crops for us all to eat.

We farm everything at hand. I am a farmer's wife.

QUEST (on camera): Right.

LADY FIONA: And I have gone to the commons, and I've even driven it.

QUEST: Really?

LADY FIONA: Very badly.

QUEST (voice-over): As the pandemic bit hard, the Carnarvons were able to draw on the huge popularity of Downtown. With no revenues coming in but a

little ingenuity, they created events, such as online cocktail parties. And they sold Highclere-branded products and underlined it all, this is the

real Downton.

LADY FIONA: It's not all --

QUEST (on camera): Oh, I love that.

LADY FIONA: Now we collect it and put it in our tea because we're nothing if not practical.

LADY FIONA: That's amazing.

QUEST: Look at all of the bees.

LADY FIONA: Making your honey.

QUEST (voice-over): Forgive me, I am a huge Downton fan and I can't resist looking everywhere.

LADY FIONA: I think you'll recognize this room.


QUEST (on camera): Lord Grantham's desk.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Oh, that's a sling (ph), darling, in Egypt.


QUEST: Do you find it a bit surreal that your home is a fictitious place?

LADY FIONA: It is surreal, but how wonderful.

Magnificent, isn't it?

This is Lord and Lady Grantham's bedroom. There's a cupboard there, where there are actually dressing gowns.

QUEST: This is the staircase?

Has the morning post arrived?

(voice-over): Highclere is coming back to life. The doors are open and the earl and countess are once again welcoming visitors.

There's always a classic finger sandwich or delicious scone on hand. Mrs. Patwell would definitely approve.



QUEST (on camera): I want to know, what did you learn about yourselves during the pandemic.


QUEST: And that surprised you?


LADY FIONA: Well, I was lucky for that small -- it's tough, step by step. And you can do it. We can all do it.

QUEST (voice-over): Highclere isn't Downton but Downton has helped Highclere survive.

LADY FIONA: It's likely to be a different course.

EARL GEORGE HERBERT: It's a glorious window up in the world. I'm talking about the icon of heritage that can actually help other hedged properties

in this area in Great Britain so much.

LADY FIONA: I always think it's the most extraordinary home. And I feel very privileged to be walking where people have walked for 1,200 years.

QUEST (on camera): Does it still have the capacity to move you?

LADY FIONA: Oh, god, yes. And it's still the most extraordinary feeling. It's a world apart.

QUEST: Even after all these years?

LADY FIONA: Definitely.

QUEST (voice-over): To walk through these rooms, to hear the history, to meet the Carnarvons, it's like well, Downton.

QUEST: Richard Quest, CNN, Highclere Castle, or Downton Abbey, or Highclere Castle.



LADY FIONA: Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to be on Richard's show. Thank you.

And here I am, it's Christmas time, sitting in the saloon of Highclere Castle in front of our Christmas tree, 25-foot-high and over a thousand

balls on it.

And I just want to wish to you, Richard, everyone at CNN a very happy Christmas and all the best wishes for 2022.


QUEST: The delights of Highclere Castle. And dare I suggest that the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square might rival that at Downton Abbey.

When we come back after the break, we'll cross the Atlantic and go to Georgia in the United States, to visit a restaurant that was having very

difficult times. But with the right policies, they're thrived.



QUEST: Welcome back to THE BEST OF QUEST as we're revisiting those companies we met during the voices of the crisis.

If there's one common thread that we heard again and again, it's that the important thing is the decisions taken at the start of the pandemic.

In some cases, it meant keeping staff on even at great cost. Because when the reopening began, you are better positioned to thrive.

Take the restaurant, the 1920 restaurant in Georgia.



QUEST (voice-over): The hum of the dinner rush, a refreshing tone after all these months. And whether on the patio or at packed tables indoors, things

are back to normal here at the 1920 club in Roswell, Georgia.

It wasn't always this way.

JENNA ARONOWITZ, CO-OWNER, 1920 TAVERN: It was tough on my stock because, you know, doing new systems on the very first day is like opening a brand-

new restaurant even though we've been here five years.

QUEST (on camera): I'm looking forward to my dinner at the 1920 Club.


QUEST: And I'll come across and have some dinner. And I'll pay the bill. I expect to pay the bill.

ARONOWITZ: OK. Why we would love that.

The most important part of 1920 is the experience. And being close to six weeks, we were unable to give that experience to our guests.


ARONOWITZ: I would go with the -- there's a parmesan grouper that's fantastic. It's really, really good. And I know you like lamb so maybe

we'll make a little a side of lamb to start off with. Yes?


ARONOWITZ: It's like a roller coaster it was a slow, steady climb. It's been wonderful. I have an amazing community who has supported us through

this whole thing. The first day we opened, they were lined up all the way along the street.

QUEST: I know from when we spoke, you kept on your staff.

ARONOWITZ: Yes, I did.

QUEST: Now did you continue all the way through?

ARONOWITZ: Thank god, yes.


ARONOWITZ: Because, in hindsight, when everybody reopened, nobody had employees. So a lot of restaurants on the street that are unable to open

restaurants full time because they don't have employees.

I never did it because of what was going to happen afterwards. I didn't have the foresight to know what was going to happen. I just wanted my guys

to hurt. I wanted them to be OK.

QUEST: In Georgia, particularly, on a local level and federal government level, do you think that's the effect, people are not going back to work

because of unemployment?

ARONOWITZ: Very much so. If you think about it logically, the unemployment with state and federal combined equates to $19.12. The average jobs for

most industries are on the lower level is $10 to $15.

So in a normal sense, why would you go back to work if you can make $19 as opposed to making $10 or $15.

QUEST: You said 50 percent of your staff are vaccinated.


QUEST: But you're not making it a requirement?

ARONOWITZ: I can't make a requirement. I'm not the Gestapo. I'm a business owner. They are human beings with their own rights. They are free to



QUEST: What do you do with your staff who are not vaccinated? Do you do anything?

ARONOWITZ: They can continue with PCR tests.

QUEST: So they have to continue PCR tests?


QUEST: So you are taking precautions?

ARONOWITZ: Yes, I continue with that. I have to be safe.

QUEST (voice-over): Before long, after the tasty grouper, some lamb and a nice conversation, it was that matter of the bill.

(on camera): Remember what I promised?

ARONOWITZ: You promised you would come and pay the check.

QUEST: With the corporate card, of course.


QUEST: It's all on me tonight.



ARONOWITZ: Hi. This is Jenna, from 1920 Tavern, in Roswell Georgia. We want to wish you all a happy holiday.

We can't believe that a year and a half we've been through a pandemic. But because of the pandemic, so many wonderful things have happened.


It's brought our community together, created such a bond with our employees guests. And we're just so grateful to be thriving, because of taking a bad

situation and making it good.

We want to wish everybody happy holidays. Thank you from Roswell, Georgia.


QUEST: It is good to see things approaching, some things approaching normality, whatever that means today.

During the pandemic, all sorts of things were going on very abnormally with our hair where we couldn't get it cut. We met on hairdresser in Copenhagen

who was taking unusual steps. So we went back to visit again. And guess what? Up ahead.


QUEST: See that fountain? That's what my hair looked like at the height of the pandemic. All everywhere. So much so, I had to press my barber, Chris,

into giving me a cut. He did a good job, all things considered.

Some hair salons had to rely on ingenious ideas to keep clients during the bad times so that, when things reopened, they would return.

I visited one in Copenhagen.


QUEST: The urge to actually say, do your wildest.




QUEST: OK, don't strangle me.

RIISBERG: I don't want you to feel uncomfortable in my chair, though.

Do you want back massage? Yes?

QUEST: When we spoke, in May of last year -- you had been closed for a month, the week after you just opened.


QUEST: You were very enthusiastic.

RIISBERG: Yes, I was super happy. It was nerve-wracking to be on lockdown for us a month and some people longer.

So finally, coming back to clients. And even though it was a little bit of a hassle to get everyone rebooked and figuring out, how do we make time for

everyone, it was a pure joy to welcome clients again.

QUEST: Right.

RIISBERG: Everything's so now, we can't get back to normal until everything is safer. So, yes, everything got really serious.

QUEST: Got through May, July, got through the year, and things get worse in September, December again.

RIISBERG: Yes, so we're like, it's only a month, next year everything will be better. And then it's next year and we're still closed, and still closed

all the way until April so a very long period of time.

QUEST: How difficult was it to stay in business for the four months, even with government help?

RIISBERG: It was tough. And I think for smaller salons, I think it has been almost impossible. I think a lot of salons had to close down or change the

way we do things.

QUEST: So you've reopened now. What's the situation now?

RIISBERG: We are a little more relaxed. Face mask gone off. Everyone still needs corona pass but everyone gotten used to it already so it's way more

relaxed. And we are almost back to normal.

QUEST: How many customers you think you lost, or gained?


RIISBERG: Oh, I don't know how many we lost. I don't think we lost any, really. I think everyone really started to value us a little bit more.

It became very popular, supporting your local hairdresser and showing everyone who showed up.

I feel like our company has really dealt with this in the best possible way. I do a lot of our social media and I've really been happy with the

amount of time and --

QUEST: You told people, come and get your color. You did tutorials, how to cut your own hair. And people responded?

RIISBERG: Yes. There was a great response.

And, yes, especially looking forward to the holiday to take hold. Instead of going to a drug store and getting it botched and have to fix it after --

there was a lot to fix after five months of lockdown.

So for someone to come in with green hair they dyed themself, or whatever, that's just tough.



RIISBERG: Hello from Denmark. I'm Sidsel in Copenhagen. And I'm so happy to update you since you came here.

We are back with clients and super busy. We are super happy. All we have to do now, is continue doing our best.

Happy New Year to you.


QUEST: Normal service has been resumed.

Coming up, after the break, back in New York to the Empire State Building, from the very, very top.


QUEST: Lord Nelson has a tremendous view over London from the top of his column here at Trafalgar Square.

I had a bird's eye view from New York from the top of the Empire State Building, which is now reopened and refurbished with a classic experience.


QUEST (voice-over): "The highest structure raised by the hand of man," so said "The New York Times" when the Empire State Building opened in 1931.

It opened as the Depression got under way. The building had the nickname of the Empty State Building. It was only a quarter full.

That nickname, the Empty State Building, could have been used again last year when the pandemic hit.

TONY MALKIN, CEO, EMPIRE STATE REALTY TRUST: There was a ban on all nonessential workers, from the entrance into office buildings.

By the middle of March of 2020, to about three and a half percent of the turnstile swipes in our building that we had a year earlier period in 2019.

QUEST (on camera): Were you surprised more people didn't just finish it, go out of business?

MALKIN: Let's put it this way, there was a lot of surprise in March, April, May of 2020. It was what we like to call the land of pivot and flex.

Constant fluidity in the situation.

QUEST (voice-over): For nine decades, the building has stood in the center of Manhattan. The defining feature of New York's buldgering skyline.

MALKIN: It's bullet proof.

QUEST: $165 million renovation had just been completed when COVID arrived and tourism revenues went to zero. But the owners held their nerve.

And in the spirit that this building was first conceived, they planned for the future.

(on camera): Now to this building itself, magnificent. The tourists are back?


MALKIN: The tourists are coming back, yes.

QUEST: Are you ready for the bonanza that is about to arrive once the U.S. opens up to Europe and those transiting through Europe?

MALKIN: I tell you, Richard, we are.

And I'll tell you something else. What's really changed a lot, when we shut down -- and we did shut down from March through July at the Empire State

Building -- we rethought, first time ever -- we had already redeveloped, $165 million redevelopment of the observatory attraction.

But for the first time ever, we went to absolute zero and we rebuilt our business in a different way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the world's most famous building.

QUEST: This is 103.

MALKIN: That's right.

QUEST: All right. Hold on to your hat.


QUEST: We can see the edge.

MALKIN: Right.

QUEST: We can see the rock, and we can see the summit.

MALKIN: Right.

QUEST: And on the other side is?

MALKIN: That way --

QUEST: I mean, you're all sharing a view of each other.

MALKIN: Well actually, no. We are at the center of it all, the center of New York City.

There's an international recognition. It lives in the hearts and minds of everyone from 5 and 6-year-olds to 90-year-olds. And how does it happen?

QUEST (voice-over): The Empire State Building appeared in many movies and TV shows.

And when it comes to the holidays, it's a colorful part of the city's culture.

MALKIN: It speaks to the concept of hopes and dreams. Everybody has hopes and dreams.

And this doesn't belong to one culture. It was built by many cultures. And it caught the fancy and the fantasy moment of the world.



QUEST: It's 50 years since the Empire State was tallest building in the world, but that doesn't matter. Because today, there are bigger, smarter,

posher, taller buildings, but none quite like this.

Richard Quest, CNN, at the Empire State Building in New York.


QUEST: Tonight's profitable moment. Many businesses failed over the last two years. And for that, we can be truly sorry for those dreams that went

up in smoke.

But for a moment, I just want to focus on those businesses that did survive and may now be thriving.

Because 2022 will be a year of opportunity. From lockdown to resilience, to potential growth.

And that's what we must all hope for, as we look to the future. A future that, frankly, is better than it's looked for a long time.

And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. I'm Richard Quest in London.

Whatever you're up to in the year ahead, ha, I know it will be profitable.