Us Brits are hopelessly consumed by our fair isle’s weather, which either bathes us in glorious sunshine or bathes us in, well, rainwater. Just because our colleagues’, friends’ and families’ faces have been pixelated on screen, doesn’t mean our greetings or small talk has become bereft of our favourite topic.
In fact, there has most likely never been more eyes on the sky than the first few weeks of outdoor trading. No amount of terrace heating can stop the food on the table going cold, and heavy rain would have deterred at least some of your guests planning to flock to reopened businesses. True to form, England’s temperamental mid-April meteorological behaviour brought with it overnight frosts and… snow. But much like the sector itself, cautious rays of hope broke through the dark clouds eventually.
And though, according to CGA, half of all consumers in England have been back to visit our industry since 12 April (a pattern I hope is replicated in Scotland and Wales over the coming weeks), the fact remains that three out of four businesses have not been able to open due to a lack of outside space, or unviable trading while indoor dining remains off limits.
The gradual reopening of our industry doesn’t necessarily render any side hustles or lockdown trading tactics obsolete, however. Take Sam Ward and the team at Umbel Restaurants (Simon Rogan’s venues), who are in the process of stepping up their meal kit game to balance online order demand alongside operational restaurant kitchens. Find out why the group is continuing to invest in its at-home services on page 10.
Our news desk has been gladly receiving more restaurant openings again, so head to page 14 to see who’s opening what near you.
To our readers in Scotland and Wales, good luck on finally reopening your doors to diners. And to operators in England, here’s hoping that 17 May goes smoothly – bringing with it the ability to trade viably once again.