The company closed all of its stores last week, but has now made the decision to reopen the kitchens at it King’s Road and Regents Place restaurants. They are both set to reopen by the end of the week.
Itsu says it will focus on making one hot dish - veggie gyoza udon - to keep things simple and effective while respecting the limitations of social distancing in our kitchens. The food will be free of charge, with founder and CEO Julian Metcalfe signed up as a volunteer to deliver the food.
So far Itsu has donated £15,000 worth of food to NHS 20 hospitals including University College London and St Thomas.
“After our first big donation of dinners to hospitals last week, we’ve been inundated with more requests for healthy meals from NHS staff along with requests from our own people wanting to volunteer their time,” says Metcalfe.
“I have volunteered along with all of our senior team who are desperate to do our bit.”
The company will be donating all food as well as paying for taxis for staff volunteers to get safely to and from its kitchens.
Itsu isn't alone in keeping select stores open to serve NHS workers. Healthy fast food chain Leon is also keeping its sites open to customers where NHS teams and other essential workers rely on its services, and is also turning some of its restaurants into food delivery hubs.
Metcalfe says that Itsu is “borrowing extensively” to pay staff at least 80% of their salary while on furlough.
“It is vital that the Government honours its promise to reimburse businesses for these costs,” he says.