The second lockdown will leave South London’s hospitality sector toiling, says one businesswoman.
New restrictions closing restaurants to dine-in customers will curtail their income, according to Claudia Mackenzie, manager and owner of Park’s Edge Bar & Kitchen in Herne Hill.
Firms have had to adapt and find new customers to survive, as old business models did not work in the new normal.
Ms Mackenzie said: “Since March 2020, we’ve had to pick sense out of a lot of nonsense.
“We quickly decided to pivot to a delivery and takeaway service after the lockdown announcement in March, when all restaurants closed.
“We’re doing the same, this time. It not only helped to save our bacon financially, but gave us a sense of purpose and, dare I say it, pride.”
The first lockdown meant customers were encouraged to stay at home and stop the spread of Covid-19. But that enabled Ms Mackenzie to get to know existing customers better – and find new ones.
Being a regular source of contact for people and providing restaurant-quality food to people’s homes gave the team a massive sense of purpose and satisfaction, said Ms Mackenzie.
“The business plan didn’t mention a pandemic, and there was no precedent for how to keep the place running,” she added.
It’s been a very tough year for everyone: customers, staff, suppliers – everyone involved in the restaurant’s supply chain.
But cutting costs, while still offering customers delicious food, has helped the business keep going.
The restaurant had been fairly busy since re-opening in July but coping with constantly changing rules since then has played havoc with bookings.
Ms Mackenzie added: “The government clearly doesn’t know what to do to control the virus, and its strategy is having a severe effect on customers’ lives and business’ prospects.
“We’re going to have to live with the virus but we shouldn’t be allowing it to control our way of life.”
Ms Mackenzie believes lockdown meant diners have changed their habits of heading to the West End for a meal, deciding instead to eat closer to home and support the local economy.
She believes restaurants like hers should seize this “golden opportunity to offer West End-style, high quality dining in terms of food quality”.
She added: “When things go back to normal for the West End – and they will – we have to be aware that business could quickly drain away from South London’s restaurants as people head back to work in Central London and start socialising in town.
“But I believe there may be a temporary spike of that happening before things settle down post-Covid.
“We’re a motley crew of individuals from all sorts of backgrounds who enjoy creating and offering our flavourful interpretations of Caribbean fusion-inspired modern British dishes.”
Park’s Edge Bar & Kitchen is open five days for takeaway collection and delivery. Opening times are 5pm until 10pm, Tuesday to Friday and noon until 10pm on Saturdays.
Pictured top: Claudia Mackenzie
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