Posted: 10.06.21 at 10:18 by Amanda Chalmers
An award-winning restaurateur in Warwick has advised fellow hospitality bosses to ‘change their business models or die’ as the pandemic continues to threaten their futures.
The stark prediction comes ahead of an anticipated delay in the planned full easing of Covid restrictions for June 21 which he blames on ‘government inaction and incompetence.’
Alex Clayton was forced to close Tasca Dali Spanish restaurant at the start of lockdown, resorting, like many others, to offering meal deliveries to try and keep his business alive.
Since then, despite being allowed to reopen between lockdowns last year, the business has adapted to months of continuous revisions to the guidance including an enforced 1m self-distancing rule, reducing customer capacity by half.
Alex said: “The final lifting of the restrictions is critical for us as a small restaurant. To be running at minimal capacity has a huge impact. We have been through a lot over the last 14 months but I am proud to say we have managed to keep on almost all the team.
“What is difficult to fathom is that the delays are the result of Government slowness to close borders immediately when they detected the variants from India. This means that once again it is the small business that needs to pay for such inaction and incompetence. We are supposed to plan when they cannot.
“At the end of the day, incompetence aside, I do believe we shall have to adapt to a continual serious of mutations and restrictions in what is quickly becoming a very brave new world.
“Since we cannot fight the system and since we put our clients front and centre of everything we do, we shall need to change our business model or die.
“To that end, we have brought in a very flexible booking software which allows greater flexibility in booking times so as many people can come as possible in spite of our limited capacity.”
Still relying heavily on deliveries to supplement his revenue, Alex has now become the first Spanish restaurant in Warwickshire to add a paella option to his tapas takeaway menu.
Meanwhile, measures in place to make the premises Covid-Secure include tables set on arrival and disinfected between guests, no tablecloths, the use of paper napkins and staff wearing masks.
The restaurant is also one of very few to use a state-of-the-art air cleaning and recirculation system. The NASA technology uses ultra- violet light to sanitise the air as well as the surfaces it lands on.
Tasca Dali has received a clutch of awards during its eight years in High Street, including Spanish Restaurant of the Year in the Birmingham Restaurant Awards.
The team prides itself on authentic and traditional Spanish cooking methods with most of the ingredients including cheeses, hams, chorizos, olive oils sourced from Spain, along with locally sourced meats and fish.
Alex insists on clean cooking, no microwaves, short cuts, colourings or additives. He said: “It amazes me how many people put colouring in their foods and especially paella – I came across a supposed champion paella maker and when I looked around their kitchen, it was full of stock cubes and colouring. That is not what we do: neither for our tasting menu nor our new delivery menu through our Flamenco brand.”
The restaurant takes bookings Monday to Sunday between 5-11pm and serves brunch Friday to Sunday 12-3pm.
Visit their website here. or call 07445 223 527.
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