Chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay said he expects there will be “substantial losses” next year, but nevertheless remains “optimistic” about the future.
Speaking on the Frank Warren Heavyweight Podcast published on 1 May, Ramsay said that running a restaurant is “very hard” at the moment.
“The margins now – not just in the produce and the labour and running costs – are pretty tiny, so there’s no margin for error,” he said.
The hospitality industry has been severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, as restaurants, pubs and bars were ordered to close on 20 March.
While takeaway operations are allowed to operate, this is not an option for many businesses. Restaurateurs have expressed concern about re-opening too early when restrictions are still in place.
UK Cabinet Minister Michael Gove told the BBC on 19 April that hospitality businesses would be among the last to reopen.
Ramsay said he remains “optimistic” about the future, and believes there will be a “surge” in demand once restaurants reopen.
“We just have to tread very carefully, listen to the government, get the right sort of support from the landlords. HMRC have been tremendous, the government with the furlough scheme has been instrumental.
“We are going to open up, we are going to be back strong and treat this as a new opening and something better than we were doing before we closed,” he said.
However, like others in the industry, he warns that businesses must be “incredibly careful” when they reopen.
“We have to imagine these as new openings. Forget salt and paper, it’s hand sanitiser. Forget the long-winded descriptions, forget table sides. It will be temperature checks, staff checks, regular testings. All these things have to come into play.
“We have to increase the security of our customers and we have to make sure they feel safe and incredibly well looked after. All those measures are being worked out and it’s a logistical nightmare.”
Ramsay operates restaurants in Europe, the US, Asia and the Middle East. He has 16 restaurants in London.