Speaking on BigHospitality’s latest UnitedWeStand podcast, the renowned chef and restaurateur, who operates 16 sites across the globe under the Social Company banner, spoke of what it was like to see all of his restaurants forced to close within the space of a week.
“I watched my restaurants close across the globe over a seven-day period; it was very frightening. And with every income stream turned off, it creates carnage back home to the ecosystem built around [the business].”
Delivery wasn’t an area Atherton was interested in exploring as the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown set in, saying that for his business it would be “like putting a sticky plaster on a bullet wound”.
Instead, he has been working hard to secure his business for the future, keeping in regular contact with all of his teams, as well as his suppliers; and by thinking ahead to what it might be like to run a restaurant in a post lockdown environment, where some forms of social distancing may still be required.
“There’s a million things that will hit you hard if you don’t try and get on top of things now. We are putting plans in place ready for social distancing in case that happens inside restaurants, how we’re going to serve guests and then stand back and explain the food, and how we are going to serve wine from one and a half metres away.”
Once restrictions are lifted, Atherton believes it will take two three weeks for his restaurants to reopen. Each restaurant will have to be redecorated, the kitchens deep cleaned, and all the ventilators cleaned before any sort of service can recommence. Furthermore, this period will also be used to help get the kitchen back up to speed.
“To restart a menu takes four to five days for everything from fermentation and ice cream bases to puff pastry. Once they are in the system it just gets replenished but every single restaurant hasn’t got a grain of salt in it at the moment, so we’ve got to literally start again from scratch and that takes time.
#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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