Podcast: Paul Ainsworth – “two weeks ago was the worst week of my life”

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Number 6 restaurant chef Paul Ainsworth on how the Coronavirus affected his business

Related tags: UnitedWeStand, Coronavirus, Chefs, Fine dining, Cornwall

Chef and restaurateur Paul Ainsworth has described the week that started with Boris Johnson advising people to stay away from pubs and restaurants (16 March) as the worst week of his life.

Speaking on BigHospitality’s latest podcast, Ainsworth, who runs Michelin-starred restaurant Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 in Padstow with his wife Emma, as well as Caffe Rojano and Padstow Townhouse in the Cornish village and gastropub The Mariners in nearby Rock, reveals the struggles of the early days of the UK’s Coronavirus and his attempts to safeguard his team.

“The news on the Monday when the Prime Minister told everybody to stay [away from pubs and restaurants] but didn’t officially close down hospitality businesses, that period from Monday evening was just horrific.”

“People were cancelling, asking for deposits back. As the week progressed until Friday it became really hard. As each day passed you almost felt more guilty for being open – but what could you do?”

“I can’t make these guys redundant, that’s not an option. That’s the last resort.”

Ainsworth says that while booking massively decreased following the Government announcement on the Monday, as the week progressed the restaurants started picking up bookings from people leaving London and isolating in Cornwall – creating a moral dilemma for him and Emma.

“In my position I didn’t know what to do. I was just trying to do my best [for my team] and protect [their] jobs.”

“We continued to trade but tried to do everything the right way. We didn’t advertise on social media and say ‘we’re open, come on down’ but just with the bookings that didn’t cancel we honoured, and also the bookings we picked up.

“It was first and foremost to look after our team.”

#UnitedWeStand​ has been created by William Reed hospitality titles BigHospitality,  Restaurant magazine and Morning Advertiser and is supported by Arla Pro, Britvic, Coca-Cola European Partners, McCain and Unilever Food Solutions.

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