The Caterer

‘A gamble I cannot take': Alex Rushmer on why Vanderlyle will not reopen on 4 July

24 June 2020 by
‘A gamble I cannot take': Alex Rushmer on why Vanderlyle will not reopen on 4 July

Alex Rushmer has said the uncertainties around reopening on 4 July make considering doing so too much of a gamble for him and business partner Lawrence Butler.

Rushmer and Butler are behind plant-based Vanderlyle in Cambridge, which opened in 2019 and has switched to a takeaway model since being forced to close in March.

In an online blog post the former explained: "I understand this eagerness and excitement, it's impossible not to. And I make no judgements on those who choose to open at the earliest possible opportunity.

"But our own approach is going to be more cautious. Vanderlyle will not be open for business as usual at the start of July. Currently, I don't know what the odds are of us being open again before the start of next year.

"A lack of clinical decision making at the start of the crisis gives me little confidence that the government will successfully negotiate our exit from it. Lockdown easing in places as diverse as Florida, Germany and Beijing have all resulted in infection spikes and increases in R rates. Covid isn't going away. With no guidance about how to reopen safely and no support network if lockdown measures need to be ratcheted up again, reopening a small independent restaurant becomes a gamble I cannot make."

Rushmer expresses concerns about what a positive identification on the premises via track and trace could mean for the business, particularly if it could see another temporary shutdown. He also raises questions about the economic realities of reduced capacity, around which he cannot see a business model that works.

He added: "I want to cook and put your food on a plate instead of in a box. I want to pour you a glass of wine and tell you why it will pair so well with the main course. I want to make sure that for the two or three hours you are in our restaurant you feel cosseted, safe and embraced by our interpretation of hospitality. Can all this be done from behind perspex screens, gloved and masked and incessantly worried about finances or whether or not the restaurant will have to close for two weeks because of a single phone call? For now – for me – the answer is no, it can't."

To read the entire post click here.

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