The pots are clean, the knives ready to chop … but the long winter for British hospitality is not over. Luke Garnsworthy owns a restaurant and has the recipe for survival: “Tenacious determination and deep pockets. Keeping our company closed costs about 20,000 pounds. I think in total we receive about 5,000 pounds a month in grants. That’s a shortfall of 15 thousand. pounds.”.
Unlike the first shutdown, state aid is no longer so generous. “The government paid everything. We just closed and everything was resolved. This time it is much more difficult. The government will pay the salary part, but we still have to pay the insurance national and pensions. So it’s £ 10,000 a month just to support the team and make some money. “
The third closure was scheduled to have already ended. But the government is following the advice of health experts not to make any estimates about the reopening.
“You can’t plan. You can’t go to the bank for extra money. You can’t ask the landlord for help with the rent because no one knows when it will end. I can understand health experts want to make that decision later, but Nobody expects the government to determine an exact date and stick to it, although it does provide an indication of when we will be able to reopen, the de-escalation, the reopening sequence, end the uncertainty to give companies a chance to survive. “, explains Kate Nichols, CEO of UK Hospitality, the industry’s employer.
The persistence of entrepreneurs
Luke is not going to back down: “We have plans to open from April to September, several different models. I started this from scratch with my wife five or six years ago. I am not going to give it up and we will continue fighting.”
Asked about his savings control, Luke responds: “Anyone we owe money to could knock on the door at any time. We took out a sizeable loan to open our Henley restaurant last year, right at the beginning of the pandemic. It never opened. And we should pay them now. So far they have been good, but everything could change. “
Many in this sector, having built their businesses from scratch, will do their best to keep them alive. But not everything is under your control. And up to four out of ten hospitality business owners, according to the employers, fear they may go out of business by the middle of the year.