Banks opened Roots with his brother James, and friend Matthew Lockwood, in September 2018 with the restaurant’s offer built around a selection of plates designed to be shared by the whole table. The restaurant has been met with critical acclaim, and is currently ranked number 42 on the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants list.
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, however, and social distancing measures restaurants will have to work around post lockdown, Banks says Roots' original sharing plate approach will no longer be an attractive proposition to customers.
“Are sharing plates going to work after this?” he says in BigHospitality’s latest UnitedWeStand podcast. “Until a vaccine is found or unless it’s with someone in your own household, are you really going to want to share from the same plate as somebody else? Are customers’ minds towards this going to be the same?”
“I think there will be a period where people will just want to go and have their own plate of food in front of them.”
Banks says that Roots is likely to reopen serving a weekly-changing set menu instead. “It’s not a tasting menu - I think that’s 10 courses plus - but I can see Roots just being a really nice place for a weekly menu of delicious things. I’m pretty certain we’re not going to do sharing plates.”
While the sharing concept will change, Banks says Roots’ ethos of using produce from its own farm and local suppliers will remain unchanged and that new dishes will likely reference those that were originally served.
“I want to use some of the quirky dishes we used to do and rework them into the menu as a sort of ode to the old pre-Covid-19 Roots," he says.
“But it’s going to be more like opening a new restaurant really. I’m quite excited about that.”
The full Tommy Banks podcast will be published on BigHospitality tomorrow (22 May).