Restaurants in an Extraordinary Year
It is hard not to think about and therefore write about the problems facing restaurateurs during the extraordinary events of 2020. The angst is felt by many up and down the counties that make up the UK and it is reported that about 80% of hospitality businesses stopped trading at the end of March 2020. Moreover, at the end of August 2020 the BBC reported that a third have still not reopened.
The BBC also advises that 84,000 restaurants, cafes and bars signed up for the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme set up by the government for August in an attempt to help kick start the hospitality sector.
Such is the success of the scheme that many participants have decided to continue the scheme into September and beyond funding it themselves.
But, let’s take a look on the impact the pandemic has had and is continuing to have on London restaurants.
Restaurants in some areas of London enjoy year round steady trade; the privilege of their location exempting them from the peaks and troughs that many in the industry face. These are the businesses who are probably suffering the hardest as a result of the Coronavirus lockdowns and other changes such as social distancing, workers working from home and theatres remaining empty. Many too, although they enjoy a year round trading platform that is the envy of many, usually enjoy a regular flow of overseas visitors through their doors that will also be sadly lacking at the moment.
What those in many other sectors and the general public don’t realise is that most restaurants run to tight margins and those in London with higher rents and rates are no exception. Sadly, a look this week at Eater London shows a very long list of restaurants that have closed for good, many due to the 2020 pandemic being the final insurmountable hurdle. The list is almost as varied as it is long with some personal favourites and some highly reputable establishments being included on the list 2020 is a sad year for the industry.
In response to the government’s latest measures, the strict 10pm closure deadline many restaurants are reacting by taking a long hard look at operational matters. Profits and cash flow are already suffering due to being able to serve less covers per session and ways around squeezing in the much needed second sitting by opening earlier is one popular way to navigate the impact of the changes.
As reported on Eater other options being adopted are adding a takeaway service; 25% off for meals ordered before 6pm; offering home meal kits and changing opening hours to start and finish earlier. You can read the full story here: https://london.eater.com/21452713/coronavirus-curfew-restaurants-bars-10pm-restrictions-uk
With a high number of London restaurants remaining closed and such a worrying number closing for good, we have to wonder where all of this is going to lead? Where it is going to leave the industry? Sadly it won’t be survival of the best, we can see that from the closures list on Eater https://london.eater.com/21375086/london-restaurants-closing-coronavirus It may be survival of those who can negotiate with their landlords, reduce and defer rents, something that landlords who see the long term picture should be happy to do. Or, those restaurants fortunate enough to have wealthy backers or who are in just the right place to still be busy enough.
There is another way that all restaurateurs can work to make the best of the situation and that is to completely remodel your plans. Granted, those who can find something that works to cover costs and remain operational will also need a hefty dollop of luck, but the open-minded attitude of yourself and your staff team right now could be the difference between sink and swim.
I cannot help you with that, although I hope the foregoing has not been too depressing and actually helpful to those hanging on in there? That’s the idea anyway, to be helpful. What I can help with is a reminder to contact https://www.cateringinsurance.co.uk/ for your catering insurance needs.
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