Positive takeaways for restaurants

In response to lockdowns and reduced customer numbers, many restaurants are offering takeaway services – both for prepared food and fresh produce.

Retail is not the only European high street and shopping centre activity striving to keep business going through the pandemic. 

Local rules mean restaurants may have had to introduce a mix of social distancing, which reduces the number of place settings; shortened business hours, limiting the number of sittings; and restrictions on alcohol sales, curtailing profit margins. In any case, lockdowns have prevented patrons from leaving their homes to visit restaurants in the first place. 

Combined, these measures have stifled turnover and threatened restaurants’ ability to cover overheads such as rent. 

In some cases there has been an option to furlough some or all staff, obtaining some government assistance for doing so and, in some countries, temporary tax breaks. But treading water is not the first choice for a restaurant that may have spent years building up its ‘goodwill’ and the recommendations that are the basis of repeat business and growth. The effects of reduced trade have also flowed along supply chains.

‘It’s been the silver lining of lockdown and something we hope to continue and grow.’

Skye Gyngell, Spring

It is not surprising then that restaurants have sought innovative ways to keep businesses going, offering ready-to-eat takeaway meals, restaurant-standard prepared meals ready to reheat or supplying food boxes of vegetables and other ingredients. Some have opened pop-up shops offering elements of their menu in outside locations. 

London restaurant Spring, located in London’s historic Somerset House, off the Strand, is about to open a temporary shop in Shoreditch, close to the City of London. The opening follows its successful implementation of an online shop, created during the UK’s first lockdown, which enabled Spring to sell fruit and vegetables from one of its main suppliers, Herefordshire farm Fern Verrow and excess from the Spring kitchens that had been turned into jams, preserves and ice creams etc. 

“It’s been the silver lining of lockdown and something we hope to continue and grow,” says Spring’s owner and chef Skye Gyngell. “Many more people seem to be engaged in cooking at home and more importantly taking pleasure and pride in it.”

Spanish-born chef Paco Pérez (left) runs two adjacent restaurants in Gdańsk, Poland. Situated on the 33rd floor of the Olivia Star building, Arco and the less formal Treinta y Tres are separated by a bodega that can hold more than 3,000 bottles, the largest collection in Poland. The restaurants were established to attract food connoisseurs to Gdańsk and the Pomerania region. 

However, the Polish government has declared the whole of Poland a “red zone”. People’s movements are heavily restricted and there are substantial fines for breaches of the regulations governing masks and hand sanitisation. Furthermore, restaurants, cafes and pubs were closed from 24 October except for takeaway services.

But like London’s Spring, the Olivia Centre’s restaurants have found retailing to be an outlet and food prepared in the restaurant can be bought in the centre’s ground floor shop.