Confusion reigns for the owner of an award-winning tapas restaurant that has lost an estimated £100,000 across the global pandemic.
Like hundreds of restaurants and pubs across the United Kingdom, Tasca Dali is set to open its doors to dine-in customers on Monday (May 17) following the government’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
It will bring to an end a 194-day period since the Warwick eatery welcomed customers into its High Street premises on November 4, 2020.
But it’s not as simple as firing up the ovens and turning the sign around on the door for restaurant owner, Alex Clayton. The need to maintain social distancing has presented a problem for Tasca Dali due to their intimate dining area.
“When we opened after the first wave of the pandemic, it was with a 50 percent reduction in capacity, which for a small restaurant of 10 tables, we can do 36 people,” he said. “Think of some of the smaller restaurants in Birmingham, Coventry or London, people are part of the atmosphere as well, as is the proximity, that had a massive impact on what we do. We’re down to about 16 people now.
“One of the problems with opening, is, it’s very difficult to know how, and under what circumstances, we can open. Do we open at 50 percent capacity? Do we open at full capacity? That wasn’t very clear. At the moment we’re working on a 50 percent until we hear differently just because we don’t want to take any chances.”
Mr Clayton opened the restaurant nine years ago offering a five-course Spanish tasting menu, with the focus being on ‘quality ingredients’ and ‘elegantly presented home-cooked food’.
Like many eateries across the UK, Tasca Dali diversified its offer to produce takeaway food for customers during lockdown periods.
“It was a way of keeping in contact with our customers rather than making any real money,” he added.
The hit on finances has seen the restaurant owner switch to other business pursuits, which has also provided some sobering context to the plight of small businesses in the UK.
“We’ve probably lost about £100,000,” he said. “Even myself I’ve been taken to doing some consultancy for businesses who need help around Europe, especially focused on Spain and Portugal. At the end of the day, you need to build an insurance.”
He added: “Luckily we’ve managed to keep all our staff on. What I will say about the government measures is this; if you look at Spain, where I have family and friends, and spend most of my life, and Portugal, they hardly got any support at all. I think we have to be grateful, we managed to keep our staff on, even though they’ve been furloughed.
“We’re ready to open. We’re going to keep a lot of people on furlough, because of our situation regarding the numbers.”
Since the May 17 date was placed on the horizon, reservations have been flying in thick and fast at Tasca Dali, which also plans to extend its takeaway offer into a ‘stand-alone business’ for those who aren’t quite ready to dine out at a restaurant in the coming weeks and months.
“The response has been good,” added Mr Clayton. “People are forward booking, there’s lots of larger groups, five or six. My first question to them is are you two households or three? If it’s three I have to say no. Which is terrible. Where does the duty of responsibility lie? It should be the people themselves who take responsibility. I have to ask because I try to be as responsible as I can.”
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