Prior to the lockdown, a number of major restaurant brands that had been selling food for off-premises consumption - including McDonald’s, Pret a Manger and Nando’s - ceased to operate in a bid to protect staff and communities.
Following Boris Johnson’s announcement at 8.30 pm last night (23 March), a number of companies announced complete closures including Burger King, Taco Bell and regional pub group Chestnut.
Despite the lockdown restaurants are still permitted to offer takeaway and delivery operations under Government guidelines. The guidelines appear to state that pubs aren't able to offer delivery or takeout, but the Government has now confirmed they can.
A number of major high street players appear to be continuing to offer the service for the moment, including PizzaExpress and Pho.
Big pizza delivery companies Domino’s and Papa Johns are also continuing to trade, though the former has removed the option for customers to collect.
BigHospitality understands that some larger groups are facing mutinies from staff and fear being vilified for staying open.
One of the biggest challenges faced by those that choose to stay open is achieving social distancing in tightly proportioned kitchen and front of house spaces.
On the other hand, restaurants perform an important service in providing huge numbers of hot meals and are often relied upon by time-poor key workers.
Many independents have totally changed their operational model in the face of the pandemic, turning into shops offering packaged food alongside freshly cooked meals to be heated up at home.
Jonathan Downey - the founder of Street Feast - has called on the Government to provide clarity.
“The messaging isn’t clear,” he tweeted this morning (24 March). “Employers and employees need CLARITY. Restaurants pivoting to take-away and delivery provide an essential service. They’re a key component of our FOOD SECURITY. The PM needs to confirm this so that businesses/individuals can step up not shut down.”