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Day 6 of shutdown: A little update and a way forward

It all really hit home for us Monday 16th March 2020, when the government advised that people should start avoiding restaurants. We could see it was coming, all we had to do was look at our European neighbours. The next two days were very tough and we knew we had to make some hard decisions about what to do and we also knew that it would not be long until some form of lockdown was to be implemented.

I could see in my eyes of my amazing team, on Tuesday and Wednesday that they were also worried, and bless them all, they would have happily carried on working if they were told too.

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All businesses are heterogenous and everyone is in a different position so I can totally empathize with other small business owners that decided to carry to and through the weekend. The support packages released by the government later in the week are much needed, but there are still business owners out there classified as self-employed, who are left in a very grey area. I sympathize greatly and sadly, some businesses may not survive in the coming weeks.

Many of our guests have emailed and messaged me about just operating Deliveroo and we really considered it – just to keep some revenue coming in the front door and to allow the staff to clock hours. However, we currently feel it is not the right time, with social distancing being so important to slow the strain on the NHS, it is not practical for our kitchen to function correctly.

Our strategy in the last week, was to close down as soon as possible and minimise costs. Massive shout out to a couple of suppliers out there that are supporting restaurants like us – ResDiary, our reservation system, and MemSec Epos, our till system, both immediately gave us payment breaks and clearly realise that their business models are based on us being successful in the long term. Which brings me around to where I am going on this blog post.

We spoke to Deliveroo on Wednesday 18th March – the day we closed – to see if they could provide some support and reduce the rates to their “partners”. If they said yes we may have tried to have opened for a couple of nights a week or something similar. But nope, they wouldn’t budge an inch from their 30% commission – worth noting that Just Eat reduced their commission by one third.

Yes they are implementing contactless delivery and also no doubt helping some people out there who can’t get to the supermarkets or leave their home. However, I do not think they are helping the key stakeholders in their business model – the small restaurants, their staff and the local economy.

Now we have a few weeks to rebalance ourselves, it is 99% likely that we will be moving away from Deliveroo in the future. Maybe through another provider, maybe in-house or a combination of these. I hope you guys will support us and other local businesses that decide Deliveroo is no longer the platform for independent restaurant operators.

#HereToDeliver but not #HereToSupport

Henry Burgess

Born and raised in the Southend-on-Sea area, Henry studied Hospitality at Leeds Met University and has amassed over 20 years experience working in bars and restaurants. He is a gooner and loves to travel and see hospitality businesses in action, usually while sipping mezcal and eating food.