Yesterday evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that some parts of the hospitality industry could be able to reopen in July “at the earliest”, providing “they are safe and enforce social distancing”.
Reid accepts that he is unlikely to be able to honour bookings made for June and July but says re-opening bookings is an essential part of getting his restaurant up and running again.
“The French doesn't really have walk-ins. We can’t re-open with zero bookings and hope they pick up slowly as we go. There are people itching to start going out again and they want to get things booked in. It also allows us to assess what demand is going to be like,” he says.
The French - which is located within The Midland hotel - will monitor Government communications and contact customers when it’s certain it can’t accommodate them and look to re-book their table on a later date.
“Nobody is expecting the sector to close down for ever. For us it makes sense to work on a rolling basis. If we have bookings then we know what we’re planning for.”
The French’s dining room has 60 covers but only 20 will initially be used each service. Currently only tables of two are available but Reid may soon introduce the option for tables of up to four.
Government guidelines on social distancing in restaurants is expected soon.
Reid says The French’s spacious dining room is well-suited to social distancing, but that the layout of the Victorian-building’s back of house areas could be more problematic.
The vast majority of restaurants aren’t taking bookings because of the lack of clarity surrounding when they will be allowed to re-open.
Other restaurants that are currently accepting bookings include The Fat Duck and The Clove Club, which are taking bookings from 23 June and 1 July respectively.