Food & Drink

Coronavirus: Restaurants and pubs take a battering as Manchester eateries call for action

Thousands of people may lose their jobs as Manchester’s restaurants face closure due to coronavirus.

After Boris Johnson advised people to avoid crowded places such as pubs, cafes, and restaurants the number of people choosing to eat out has inevitably dropped to next to nothing.

Many restaurants are feeling the pressure of paying their staff and suppliers, including Michael Jebelli, Managing Director of plant-based eatery Vertigo.

Mr Jebelli said: “We are now looking at a drop in customers of 80%. Ultimately, this makes the business totally unsustainable and as a result, we will be closing our doors as of 7pm (on Wednesday).”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a £350b package of loans and grants on Tuesday to support businesses, including those in the hospitality sector.

Mr Sunak said he was extending the business rates holiday to all firms in the hospitality sector and funding grants of between £10,000 and £20,000 for small businesses.

The Chancellor also said that for those in financial difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer a three-month mortgage holiday.

However, Mr Jebelli thinks these are not enough to help his business cope.

“Aside from the complete lack of detail in these loans/grants, there is evidently going to be a time lag before this money becomes available.

“Last week the Chancellor spent five minutes telling the nation how he was investing in pot holes, entirely oblivious to what was going on in Italy and what was to come here. The provisions for this should have been in place much sooner.”

Restaurants have been changing their opening hours, altering their menus, and offering a take out service to bring in whatever revenue they can.

Vertigo launched a special website selling gift vouchers for people who still wish to support them, and unfortunately, Mr Jebelli said even a temporary delivery set up won’t sustain the business.

They are having to mothball operations and everything has been put on hold, including the opening of a new site in Media City.

The MD said: “Our ultimate priority is making sure our staff and suppliers are paid before we look to any expansion.”

In an act of appreciation for health workers, Vertigo was offering all NHS staff a meal on the house before they had to close their doors.

Chef Simon Rimmer, owner of Greens restaurant in West Didsbury, took to Twitter to voice his concerns.

He said takings in his 13 sites were down by 66% on Monday and there is no insurance claims to protect them, as the closure is not enforced.

The Sunday Brunch host said it won’t be long before they go out of business permanently which would affect over 400 people his businesses currently employ.

Mr Rimmer also shared a video asking people to support the charity Hospitality Action who help people in the industry that have found themselves in difficulty or crisis.

Russell Stonehouse, Head Chef and Assistant Manager of The Gatehouse pub in Tyldesley, said the lack of customers through the door have been felt ever since the PM told people to avoid pubs.

Mr Stonehouse said: “I understand the government advice, but with no customers I can’t give staff any hours. They are worried about being able to pay their rent.”

The chef is currently taking it day by day, but ultimately the pub may have to close its doors for a while.

While open, The Gatehouse is doing its bit by offering a meal delivery service for all local over 70s who are self isolating.

With announcements coming everyday from the government, what will be next for the millions of people who work in this billion dollar industry? 

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