Video: How restaurants are gearing up for re-opening

By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Front of house, Chefs, Coronavirus, Casual dining

As the re-opening date for restaurants approaches, operators’ thoughts are turning to how they can re-open safely and economically. Here restaurateurs in Brighton & Hove discuss the challenges they face as they look to start welcoming their diners back.

Like the vast majority of restaurateurs, Cin Cin founder David Toscano believes that re-opening his restaurants won’t be viable businesses if he has to create a 2m gap between his tables.

In fact, it would be nearly impossible for either of Cin Cin’s two counter dining sites to re-open under such an arrangement. Toscano  could create gaps between covers but he could not guarantee a 1m gap between staff and customers, let alone a 2m one. 

"We’ve looked at the different scenarios. If the rule is revised down to one meter we think we can have enough covers both internally and externally to allow us to re-open," he says. 

"As both of our restaurants are counter dining, open kitchen open bar type places it means we’re always in close proximity to our customers. That makes it more difficult for us to maintain even a one metre distance.”

Like Toscano, The Chilli Pickle is waiting for full details from the Government but is working to a pessimistic revenue projection of 30% of previous turnover from mid-July to August increasing to 50% by the end of the year.

"We've been conservative with it. We're hoping that means we're fully prepared," says co-founder Dawn Sperring. 

The Chilli Pickle had a strong delivery business prior to the pandemic and resumed the service three weeks after it was forced to close.

"We're just working with our core team," says co-founder Alun Sperring. "Our focus is on looking after each other and the customers. We take the same days off and we trust that we are all doing the right things outside of work.”

Other safety measures in place at The Chilli Pickle include physical distancing, regular hand washing and hand sanitising, and regular meetings about health and safety procedures.

Hove restaurant Wild Flor did not offer delivery prior to the crisis but has pivoted to offering meals for customers to heat up at home alongside matched wines. 

“We initially dismissed it but once we realised we could offer our food to be heated up at home it became a possibility," says co-founder James Thomson. "Many people had requested it so we thought we'd just give it a spin, but it's gone well."

Wild Flor hopes to open as soon as possible and is currently planning to open on 4 July. The takeaway service will remain to supplement the dine-in trade, which is expected to be down.

“Revenues aren’t going to be any where near as high," says Thomson. "We’re not going to open for as many hours as before. We’re calculating a big drop so we're going to phase up to mitigate costs."

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