The Hospitality Briefing: April 2021

By the time Watson and Walpole re-opens on 19 May, it will have only traded for four months out of 14. Fortunately we have no debt and our rent is modest. Even still, lockdown would be a financial disaster if it weren’t for the furloughing scheme, 100% rate relief, reduced VAT and business support payments.

Apart from the worry that circumstances will again conspire to prevent our opening, what would be worse is if the former restrictions were still in place. We do actually want to continue with the no-touch hand sanitisers but not the extra distance between tables that resulted in such a loss of covers. The cap of four customers per booking was also a killer, compounded by the stipulation that guests could only come from one household. When you’re eventually allowed out, the last faces you want to see across the table are the same people you’ve seen for months, even if they have changed out of the fluffy onesies.

We have been told that households have saved £billions in lockdown and that there’s a huge pent-up demand for eating out. That’s great, but only if everyone is allowed to party like it’s 1999.