We round up the week’s restaurant news, from a new government bill which protects businesses from “aggressive creditor action” to the sale of Italian chain Carluccio’s.
Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill: The UK government introduced the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill in parliament this week. Available to all businesses, including restaurants, the bill aims to temporarily suspend parts of the insolvency law, allowing directors to continue trading during the crisis without personal liability, and protect companies from “aggressive creditor action”. Creditors will be prohibited from sending demands for payment, or winding-up petitions, for debts relating to Covid-19. It joins other existing government aid measures including the Job Retention Scheme, VAT payment deferral, Bounce Back Loans, and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.
Scottish government guidance: After UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that restaurants and hospitality outlets could start to reopen from 4 July, the Scottish government has released its own timeline. As part of a four-phase plan to reopen the country, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that takeaway and drive-thru food outlets could start to reopen from 28 May. Bars, restaurants and cafés with outdoor space could be allowed to reopen in phase two, but this will be dependent on Scotland’s R rate being consistently below 1. Indoor hospitality outlets can reopen during the third phase; when Covid-19 has been suppressed.
Draft reopening guidelines: This week industry body UKHospitality has submitted health and safety protocols for reopening outlets to ministers for endorsement. The measures said that the industry needs “flexibility” and a “should not be constricted by a one-size-fits-all approach. UKHospitality suggests measures including removing tables in restaurants, with those that remain spaced two metres apart. Cutlery should be brought out with the food, rather than left out on the table.
Carluccio’s: Insolvent Italian casual dining chain Carluccio’s has been been acquired by Boparan Restaurants, the owner of Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner. The deal sees Boparan acquire the Carluccio’s brand as well as 30 of the chain’s 70 sites. While around 800 jobs have been saved, the closure of around 40 sites will lead to over 1,000 job losses. Boporan will also own the Carluccio’s franchise partnership in the UAE and Qatar.
Marcus Wareing: Speaking to the Evening Standard this week, chef and restaurateur Marcus Wareing revealed he is “very nervous” about what the future holds. He recalls the moment he had to tell his staff to return home as being one of the “hardest things” he has ever done. He said: “I may not survive. Honestly. Yes I am in the centre of London and I have a 34-year profile in the industry. But I am in the same boat as the chefs who are younger. I am very nervous. There are some very stormy weathers in front of us. I am not talking about a few months, I am talking about the long-term future.”
Danny Meyer: New York-based restaurateur Danny Meyer spoke to Bloomberg this week about the possible reopening of restaurants. He told the publication he expects his restaurants, which are part of the Union Square Hospitality Group, to remain closed until a vaccine is developed. He said that the situation was “very frustrating” but that he would have “no interest” in reopening half-full restaurants with social distancing in place.
Tommy Banks: Chef and restaurateur Tommy Banks told Big Hospitality this week that he is likely to change how food is served at his York restaurant called Roots. Instead of sharing plates he will serve a set menu which will change weekly. He said that until a vaccine is found, Roots’ original sharing platter will be unappealing to customers, except those that live in the same household.