As a reader of DrinkUp.London you, like us, are undoubtedly reminiscing the time spent sitting at a fancy hotel bar drinking a martini, dancing on the tables in your local dive bar, or watching the chefs fire up the grill as you sit at the counter of your favourite resuatrant. But with Cabinet Minister Michael Gove declaring that pubs, bars and restaurants will be the last to reopen after the coronavirus crisis, some of our much-loved venues are facing a battle for survival and the whole hospitality industry is in the midst of a seriously perilous time. That means that when restrictions are lifted, there's a very real chance some of your favourite places won't reopen, and there will be the potential loss of 2 million more jobs in the hospitality sector.
With this in mind, there are lots of hospitality industry experts working behind the scenes doing everything they can to ensure that as many bars and restaurants as possible make it through. Importantly - this week they wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for a #NationalTimeOut, which includes a 9 month #NationalRentFree period, will protect countless businesses, save millions of jobs and won’t cost the taxpayer a penny.
The campaign is spearheaded by industry leader Jonathan Downey (who is also the founder of Street Feast) and has been supported and signed by key figures in the restaurant industry including Alisdair Murdoch (CEO of Burger King), Thomasina Miers (Wahaca), Will Beckett (CEO Hawksmoor), Arjun Waney OBE, Pano Christou (CEO of Pret a Manger), Des Gunewardena (CEO of D&D London) and many others. So it's kind of a big deal. If you'd like to read the full letter you can do so HERE.
On top of this, some of Britain’s top celebrity chefs including Nigella Lawson, John Torode, Tom Kerridge, Angela Hartnett, Michel Roux Jnr, Thomasina Miers and Yotam Ottolenghi have come out in support of this campaign, and warned of an industry meltdown without government action.
You can read some of their comments at the bottom of this article, and once you do, we ask that you - as a fellow bar lover - please share the #nationaltimeout campaign where you can - you can even screen shot the image below for your social media platforms. Doing so may seem like a really small action, but the more people we can get behind it - and the wider we can share the idea beyond just those industry leaders and experts, the more chance we'll have in making it a reality.
There are so many people who need our love and support right now and I know that the reopening of restaurants may well not be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But in these difficult times, what we all crave, and can’t have, is the sociable gathering that restaurants can provide, the coming together over food that makes the world a better place. Reopening won’t be easy, and restaurants will have many challenges in creating a safe and welcoming environment; some will reinvent themselves in a different form. But however restaurant owners manage to transition – and must do so safely - into a new and unchartered world, I wish them so much luck. For their hospitality and inspiration over the years, I thank them, and I hope that everything is being done to help everyone in the restaurant world flourish as we need them to again.
The world has changed for ever, that is fact, that is reality. We all crave social interaction, a day out with friend and family, a pint at the local pub with mates, sharing food and chatting and smiling. These social interactions have been part of our lives for was long as I can remember, but not now, we are in a very different reality. When lockdown does ease and when we start to see a little normality, the High Street maybe a scene of decimation, and that is why I am supporting #NationalTimeOut .The industry that I love so much, is in desperate trouble. Without this initiative many restaurants, pubs, hotels and cafes, as well as beloved high street shops, will simply not be able to reopen their doors at the end of all this. This is the reality. Please support #NationalTimeOut.
I wholeheartedly support the #NationalTimeOut proposal. It is vital that hospitality businesses get the lifeline they so urgently need in order to survive into the post-lockdown era. Without the 9-month rent-free period proposed, millions of jobs may be lost and a whole industry irreparably damaged.
Le Gavroche has been open for 53 years and been through recessions, depression, winter of discontent, IRA bombings and anything else you can think of. Nothing comes close to this crisis. Whilst some landlords have been proactive and very helpful, most have not. The industry needs government help for a 9-month rent free period, #NationalTimeOut, otherwise it will be carnage not just for the hospitality industry but this will trickle down to thousands of suppliers.
Michel Roux Jnr
I’m not sure people realise how busy restaurants have to be before they start to make a profit. We are all seeing restaurants reopening in China and Hong Kong but the economics of running a restaurant I think are very different here in the UK. Our fixed costs are so much higher. Many restaurants in the UK make small profits or just break even. A 20% decline in revenue means that almost all restaurants will become unprofitable. I am incredibly worried about the future and believe that restaurants revenues will be down anywhere between 25% - 50% for a very long time. We need to re-evaluate and look to how we move forward, both individually and with the help of the government to ensure that our incredible and amazing industry can survive.
Hospitality is one of the hardest hit sectors in the current climate, and will be one of the last to recover. While the existing measures being taken by the Government go some way to offer a lifeline to our industry, it's crucial that support and protection is also extended to the landlords of the commercial premises from which we operate, in order to help ensure a return to normality in the hopefully not-too-distant future. We’re 1 in 10 of the UK’s employees and vital social and cultural centres at the heart of cities and communities. This initiative will go some way to preventing an otherwise annihilation one of the country’s most creative and dynamic industries.
Many restaurant operators may not be able to re-open unless action is taken. A #NationalTimeOut can help if the UK government supports a 9-month rent free period for the hospitality sector. As the third biggest employer in the UK we are a vital part of the UK economy.
Angela Hartnett MBE
I own six restaurants across the north west of England & I employ 200 industry professionals but without this rent free legislation hospitality union is proposing we are completely fucked. It is highly likely my company Elite Bistro will have to close its doors for good. I can’t stress how important this help is and I can’t see any other way out other than a #NationalTimeOut.