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“ When the passion of your life fades, it feels personal ” Wine News

Putting on a pair of oven mitts during a busy service at his Cardiff restaurant, Heaney’s, chef / boss Tommy Heaney opened the door to one of his ovens and pulled out a huge platter of roasting potatoes. It was Saturday night, but it was not for the service that night. They were part of a large number of vegetables prepared for the next day.

As he was checking the potatoes, word reached him that there was actually nothing served at all in his restaurant the next day. Wales were entering another complete lockdown.

“We complied every step of the way,” says the fiery Northern Irish chef. “We had the first lockdown, the reopening, the two-week firebreak, the ban on serving alcohol, no service after 6 pm. You adapt, you do what you are told. But then, hearing one of our mid-shift customers say there’s another lockdown… ”

Like thousands of people who work in the UK hospitality industry, Heaney was left bemused. Like many in his industry, he maintained his determination and humor. But he is deeply worried. “I was back in March thinking this thing could last two weeks,” he says.

As the nation stands on the threshold of the New Year, hospitality chefs are nervously looking towards the next month.

“We still see a few restaurants entering administration in January,” says Iktar Islam, Birmingham-based chef and Michelin star holder for his restaurant Opheem. “But I’m afraid the levels we’ll see this time around will make anyone cry. A lot of people will lose their jobs. “

As the Telegraph’s exclusive Lost Britain survey reveals, 2020 has seen the restaurant industry rampage across the country. Kate Nicholls, the boss of business organization UK Hospitality, lobbied the government and sought to reassure her colleagues during the nightmare of the pandemic. When we speak, she has just finished a series of calls to general managers of the hospitality industry.

“I’m afraid this is very depressing,” she said. “Normally I can point at rays of light. But even the glimmer of optimism that the vaccine represents is not enough. One by one, companies are closing their doors. They turn off the lights. It’s a devastating way to end the year. “

Nicholls seeks desperate consolation in the run-up to Easter. “If the vaccine cannot be rolled out so quickly, we will have to find a way to live with it [the virus],” she says.

Restaurants have been scapegoats, she says. “It’s not on purpose. But when you face the passions in your life, I can understand why it seems personal to you.

Managing restaurants is difficult at the best of times. Margins are tight and leaders need deep reserves of strength and endurance. This year, many have seen huge financial losses and their dreams are shattered. There have been closures of well-known national chains such as Pizza Express, Byron Burger, Ask Italian and Carluccios, as well as within small groups. Many independents have also disappeared.

Restaurants have become a cornerstone of our culture and a reason people come to this country for work and tourism. The figures suggest that the stone is fracturing and that our culture is under threat.

After opening Harlequin in London in 2018 with great critical success, chef James Erasmus was among the many who saw their dreams die in 2020. “The debt piled up and we had to close,” he says.

Across the country, the anger is palpable. Celebrity chefs like Tom Aikens have posted angry rants on social media, urging other restaurants to #BanBoris.

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This notice was published: 2020-12-30 06:00:00