The chef says that the restaurant, which is currently ranked number one in the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants list, will reopen when it can but is asking for guidance from valued guests.
“We have been working on a number of measures to ensure we make your next visit safe and comfortable, based on Public Health England (PHE) guidelines, with a focus on maintaining the impeccable standards of food and service delivery that have become synonymous with Moor Hall,” he says in a message to his restaurant’s subscribers.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming you back to Moor Hall once we are open again for business. Whilst the health & safety of our guests and staff is our number one priority, we will be working tirelessly to retain the warm welcome, relaxed setting and special experience that Moor Hall is renowned for.”
Steps the restaurant intends to take include enhanced procedures and training for staff regarding hygiene, including self-declaration health questionnaires and daily temperature checks; hand wash or sanitising stations provided at all entrances for guests and in work areas for staff; following PHE guidelines regarding the use of personal protective equipment by staff; enhanced and regular cleaning regimes covering all lounges, bars, dining areas, communal areas and bedrooms and a no handshaking policy.
Moor Hall will also be moving to a cashless operation, encouraging contactless forms of payment using a smartphone or card.
“We are very fortunate to have spacious lounges, bars, dining areas and gardens, which allow us to comply with social distancing and other PHE guidelines easier than most establishments,” says Birchall.
Questions in the survey include how likely are people to dine out at Moor Hall or its sister restaurant The Barn; what elements of the restaurant experience are of most concern regarding potential Coronavirus risks; likely party sizes; where people live and what age bracket they are in.
Birchall says he has also been considering other elements of the menu and service post lockdown. He says that he is fortunate to have a large kitchen space and will try to keep the food offer at Moor Hall as before although he might have to introduce small changes such as no length wine pairings and no table-side work. Cutlery will be placed on the tables for the next four of five courses rather than brought to the table before every course, as was previously done.
He says that Moor Hall’s neighbouring more casual restaurant The Barn might be a little tougher because it relies on tables of four but that the restaurant would have to try and do a longer service turn tables. It might also move to doing two set three-course menus as he believes he will only be able to get three chefs in the kitchen for each service.
Birchall isn’t the only chef of a fine dining establishment to try and gauge the mood of his customers before reopening. Chef/restaurateur Marcus Wareing recently launched a survey to understand his customers’ attitudes to eating out after lockdown and says he will soon be sharing the results with the industry.
“Our industry is facing a challenge that no restaurateur has ever faced before: dining in a time of physical distancing. We want every guest to feel comfortable and relaxed in our space, so are kindly asking our past and future guests to answer a couple of questions about dining out in a post-Covid environment.”
To fill in the Moor Hall survey, click here