Tommy Heaney on toughing out Wales’ restrictions

By Cameron Henderson

- Last updated on GMT

Chef Tommy Heaney on restaurant restrictions in Wales

Related tags: Tommy Heaney, Wales, Chefs, Heaneys, meal kits, Fine dining, Takeaway, Coronavirus

Unable to sell the hard stuff and forced to close at 6pm, many Wales-based operators have simply shut up shop. But Cardiff-based chef Tommy Heaney is pushing on.

So you’re soldiering on despite everything...
Yes. We’re going to open up Heaneys Thursday to Sunday for lunch. We can’t make alcohol sales but people are still going to want to spend time with family and friends at Christmas. Besides, we’ve got some new members of staff here that aren’t entitled to furlough. We need to ensure they’re still in a job. 

How dire are the financial implications? 
That’s the word. We’ll be lucky to break even. 40% of our turnover is alcohol and 80% of our business is after 6pm. It’s been a hard one to take. But everyone in Wales is in the same boat. We’ve developed a really exciting mocktail list and we’ve got some non-alcoholic beers and wines. We’ll keep pushing and try and stay as positive as we can. 

That must be difficult... 
It is. I’ve tried my best to be positive but I can’t get my head round this one. There’s no facts out there to say that this is hospitality’s fault and there’s no proof that alcohol was a factor in it. And if you’re going to pull alcohol, why shut us at 6pm? People are still going to drink. We’re pushing people towards house parties. I don’t get it. There is of course a bigger picture and many are in a worse situation than me. Just up the road in Bristol they're in Tier 3. Restaurants can’t open for eat in at all. 

How are your bookings for the festive period?
Most people booked in for the evenings have been happy to come in the day. We were a bit nervous about Sunday lunch as we’re always fully booked and it’s a boozy affair, but every single person we phoned has been happy to keep their booking. People have been locked down and this is the only option, so they’re taking it. 

Tell us about how you kept busy through the two lockdowns...
You know what? I think I’ve done it all. We did takeaways at the start but I didn’t really enjoy it as it wasn’t the kind of food we normally do and there are people out there doing it better. But our Sunday roast was a big hit - we did 350 on one day - so we’ve continued with that. We’re going to do a Christmas box so we can give the team Christmas Day off. It’s important for people to spend time with their families. I’ll deliver them locally on Christmas Eve. 

What’s in the box?
We’re looking at different options. One of our signature dishes is a simple baked sourdough with Marmite butter so we’ll probably put that in, along with a couple of snacks, a starter and a nice bottle of wine. For the main event I’m thinking beef Wellington. Whatever it is it will be ready to go. If people want to cheat and say they made it that’s fine by me. We’re looking at charging about £150 for two people. 

Have you started to think about what to do in January and February? 
This could go on until the second week of January. We’ve had two lockdowns now and each time we’re reopened we’ve been busy and people have been supportive. We’re going to close for a week in January as we haven’t had any downtime this year despite what's gone on. Then we’re going to start looking at the bigger picture for 2021. Hopefully that’s going to be better for everyone. 

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