Friday Five: the week's top news

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Friday Five: the week's top news

Related tags: Coronavirus

This week's main hospitality news stories include Albert Adrià closing nearly all his Barcelona restaurants, operators struggling with inconsistent enforcement of outdoor trading rules, and Bar Crispin opening in Soho.

- Barcelona-based chef Albert Adrià has closed nearly all of his restaurants in Barcelona​ citing the city’s pandemic-related restrictions. Hoja Santa, Pakta, Bodega 1900 and the hugely influential Tickets will cease trading, leaving only his most ambitious restaurant, Enigma, open. Adrià is one of the world’s most influential chefs, playing a key role at El Bulli before stepping out of his brother Ferran’s shadow in 2011 to open Tickets. Styled on a cinema and arranged into zones, The Poble Sec venue rewrote the rulebook on top-end dining, managing to be fun and accessible while still serving innovative, world-class food. Adrià's London restaurant, Cakes & Bubbles, is not affected, and reopened this week following the lifting of restrictions on outdoor hospiality settings.

- Some local authorities appear to not be taking a consistent, light-touch approach to the enforcement of Coronavirus-related regulations​ requested by the Government as operators reopen for outdoor trading. On Thursday (8 April) Cube Bar and Kitchen in Poulton, Lancashire, was told it would have to reduce the number of heated outdoor booths and remove the cover of a courtyard-style seating area despite the configuration being cleared to trade between July and November. The trading area is far less enclosed than a number seen by BigHospitality that have been declared Coronavirus secure by other local authorities. General manager Danielle Mellor was told she could only open every other and has to alter the bookings of 1,200 people this week alone. She said: “It’s been a real pain. We’ve had to take some of our Covid-protection screens out which wasa cost we weren’t expecting. The space is quite open and the booths have three open sites but the council says they don’t meet the requirements for a smoking shelter."

- All-day restaurant Crispin in London's Spitalfields has secured a prime Soho spot from which it will launch a new bar concept this summer​ that focuses on natural wine. Called Bar Crispin, it will feature a 150-strong natural wine list curated by former Hakkasan sommelier Stefano Cazzato, and a small-plates menu collaborated on by Crispin head chef Naz Hassan and former Loyal Tavern chef patron Tom Cenci. Taking on the former Urban Tea Rooms site on Kingly Street, the bar will hold a total of 42 covers - encompassing 20 seats in the main bar, 12 in the downstairs private dining room, and a further 10 on the outside terrace. Bar Crispin will open from early morning until late every day, serving up breakfast pastries and specialty coffee (from Assembly Roast) first thing, through lunch service and into the evening where the 'ever-evolving' natural wine list will be served alongside a concise menu of snacks, cheese and charcuterie, and weekly house specials that will range from £3 to £10 per plate.

A campaign aimed at making restaurant and pub no shows a thing of the past has been launched​ to coincide with the reopening of the hospitality sector. The #SaveMySeat campaign has been launched by Foursquare Group in a bid to normalise the idea of paying a deposit when booking a table at an independent restaurant. The campaign is hoping to inspire the public to pay a deposit when making a reservation at a restaurant or pub in an attempt to combat what it says are the 20% of restaurant bookings that aren’t fulfilled every year. Foursquare says no shows costs the hospitality industry around £16bn each year, which it says is disastrous for many venues in normal circumstances, but with the additional pressures of Covid is a much more pressing issue. The campaign comes as a recent survey by guest experience management company HGEM found that almost two thirds of customers were happy to pay a deposit when booking a table at a restaurant.

- Like-for-like drink sales were up by more than 110% on hospitality's first day of trading​ (12 April) compared to the same day in 2019, according to CGA data. Figures show that those pubs, bars and restaurants that did reopen on Monday saw like-for-like sales rise by 58.6% against the same day in 2019, with drink sales up by 113.8%. Food sales didn't enjoy the same boost, though, with like-for-like sales down 11.7%. Monday marked the first trading day of the year for hospitality venues in England following the extended third national lockdown. At present businesses are limited to trading outdoors, with indoor settings not able to unlock until 17 May at the earliest. Around 41,100 hospitality premises in Britain have outdoor space, constituting some 38.2% of all sites.

Check below for more of this week's headlines, or click here​.

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