By Tom Tanner
The last few weeks have hit hospitality like a tsunami. Coronavirus has not discriminated. Everyone has been hit very hard. We are a community, a movement, of people and businesses that are committed to sourcing and serving food that’s good in every way. We’re also committed to and passionate about sharing the challenges and ways to overcome them.

The vast majority of foodservice operators have decided that the best course of action for their long term future is to furlough staff, hunker down and come back strong when social distancing is over.

Others are continuing to trade, albeit in some cases in non-traditional ways. Some trialled new ways of working for a few days but decided that the Prime Minister’s social distancing announcement on Sunday 22 March forced their hand to cease operations.

Receiving newsletters and checking all your websites and social media feeds has been a tough reading experience. More often than not when you read ‘it’s with a very heavy heart…’, it’s easy to assume that the next sentence really isn’t going to be that serious. Those very words, employed by many, are now introducing news that genuinely merits such a sombre introduction.

Here is a summary of what some members of the Food Made Good community are or have been doing to keep serving their existing customers or new ones and to keep their eager teams working.

Delivery

Rosa’s Thai and LEON are going all out to feed our fabulous NHS workers. Both are delivering food at half price to doctors, nurses and other key health workers. Great job guys!!

Poco Tapas Bar and The Wheatsheaf, Chilton Foliat. Both of these former winners of the Food Made Good Business of the Year are endeavouring to keep serving their customers. The Bristol-based Poco is now offering burgers (beef, wild boar, veg and fish), while the Wiltshire pub, having experimented with veg boxes is now concentrating on a takeaway menu focused around pizzas and three main dishes. Thirsty locals can also take away cider, beer and wine.

Lussmanns Sustainable Fish & Grill successfully trialled delivery from its St Albans site for the first time, last weekend, using a very pared back menu. Customers can click and collect or receive the meals at home between 10am and 6pm on Saturday.  It’s planning to do so again this weekend and if successful might roll out to some of its five other sites.

The Three Stags pub near London’s Imperial War Museum has evoked the spirit of the Blitz and is offering its customers a selection of five dishes delivered to their door.

Maray in Liverpool put its heart and soul into delivery (meals and gin!) for a week or so, bringing in sufficient funds to pay its entire team for the whole of March and then decided to stop service altogether – for the timebeing.

Stockport’s Where The Light Gets In pivoted into The Pickle Factory, operating as a shop and takeaway. Already it’s morphed again and from now will be supplying organic fruit and vg, grains, pulses, dairy, wine and beer via a veg box style scheme.

The Crown Hastings did something similar, reinventing itself as The Crown Supplies – providing locals with quality food and drink by way of a shop. Now though The Crown is closed and staff have been furloughed.

Others delivering include: Spice Box

Vouchers and pay forward

Faced with weeks or maybe months of not eating out, many people have taken up restaurant and pubs offer of vouchers or some kind of pay forward scheme. A whole host of businesses have benefitted from their customers’ desire to invest in a future dining experience. They include:

  • Café St Honore
  • Quo Vadis
  • Cookery School
  • Mowgli
  • Old Market Assembly (also delivering pizzas)
  • Versa
  • The Culpeper
  • Harissa Kitchen
  • Quo Vadis
  • Cubitt House pubs

A number, like Moro, are offering further incentives, in their case a bottle of Cava when the time comes to redeem the voucher.

Miscellaneous creativity

Suppliers have been having to respond too. Many who normally only supply the trade are for the first time offering their produce to the public – like Nature’s Choice and Stickleback Fish.

Hippo Inns is attempting to continue its role a community hub running an online pub quiz

The Zetter Hotel has closed its doors to all customers, but remains open to NHS workers in need of free of charge overnight accommodation

Costa has closed all its regular stores but continues to operate in hospitals where NHS workers can get free coffees. Costa also performed a massive logistical task redistributing surplus food from its hundreds of stores through the likes of FareShare, Olio and Felix Project.

Extending the health theme…our partner Pernod Ricard has switched production to that alcohol laden and indispensable product of the day – hand sanitiser.

 

If we’ve not included your business or have misstated what you’re doing, please do keep us updated at hello@thesra.org


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