'Pushed to the back of the queue again' says Warwickshire restaurant owner

By Guest

5th Aug 2021 | Opinion

The owner of as south Warwickshire restaurant which has been closed more days than open since it launched last year, claims hospitality businesses have been 'put to the back of the queue' again.

His reaction follow's the Prime Minister's announcement this week detailing plans for the much-anticipated 'roadmap' out of the third lockdown.

The roadmap out of lockdown restrictions stated pubs and restaurants are not likely to be allowed to open indoors until mid-May, with limits on groups and social distancing still in place.

We Love Pizza finally launched in September despite taking over the lease of the Regent Place unit in February last year – in which time his business has only been able to trade for 60 days.

And owner Jose Ribeiro estimates he is losing more than £2k for every week the restaurant is closed.

He said: "The successful roll out of the vaccination programme gives hospitality businesses and society in general a clear exit for the existing lockdown.

"But the hospitality industry is going to the back of the queue once again and that will come with even more job losses and businesses collapsing. This is an industry already on its knees and further delay on re opening will stall any glimpse of hope for a recovery and is not based on any safety data.

"That is no reason to be back of the line, evidence shows hospitality venues are very safe due to the investment business owners made to comply and go beyond any requirements.

"It's important the government follow the data, but data shows we can move swiftly, safely and sustainably with an early April opening."

Now that we have a date in May let's hope the Prime Minister words "cautious but irreversible" are true so we can move on and upwards."

It is the biggest challenge faced by the experienced restaurateur who has worked as a consultant for the last 26 years, his projects taking him around the world, including New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

Jose and his team have maintained deliveries and takeaways throughout the lockdowns but are now, as a business which imports many of its ingredients from Italy, also feeling the effects of Brexit.

He said: "With the Coronavirus pandemic, we already needed to cut the weekly order quantity. Now, Britain's departure from the EU threatens to make the journey more cumbersome, expensive, and slower—if it's even possible.

"Since Brexit, each individual item has to be coded and logged in transportation documents to be checked at the border before entering the UK, complicating the process to the point where it may no longer make sense. I need three to four hams a week, 10 bags flour, 50 tins tomatoes. I can't buy a whole pallet so the amount of paperwork is a nightmare.

He added: "The reason we import our products is not to save costs. The main reason for this set-up isn't cost, but authenticity and quality. It is about identity, and it will be hard to maintain that.

"Our challenges is not so much the cost of supplies, we can negotiate deals with local Italian producers that are happy to take some of the costs to carry on producing and delivering their best products, but the admin and paperwork. Something we as small restaurant operators aren't gear on for."

Despite all of this, Jose is determined to continue his work with a local homelessness charity, Helping Hands, to provide surplus pizza to their soup kitchen at the end of each day.

Visit their website here.


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