Hospitality businesses in England are reporting a surge in bookings ahead of the second lockdown on Thursday 5 November, with some reporting an increase in bookings of 25%.
Gregory Marchand, chef-patron of Frenchie in London's Covent Garden, said the increase had been "astounding" with a "feeling of urgency". While covers at his restaurant last week were averaging in the 30s, on Wednesday, the day before the country heads into its second lockdown, the restaurant has 94 booked in.
Jack Stein, chef-director of the Rick Stein Group, reported bookings were up 25% on Sunday compared to the prior Sunday across the group, with its Seafood Restaurant (pictured) in Padstow, Cornwall, looking "particularly busy" as people "make the most of the few days we have left".
Although normally closed on a Wednesday lunchtime, the Michelin-starred Forest Side in Grasmere, Cumbria, has made an exception for tomorrow's final day of trading for the next month. General manager Alasdair Elwick said every table was snapped up in less than three hours.
Meanwhile, Nutshell in London's Covent Garden is also opening specially for the first three days of the week and is fully booked tomorrow.
Chef-patron Marwa Alkhalaf said: "It's great to know that we can serve our loyal customers for a few extra days before we go into the second lockdown, and while we hope they order our at home kits for the next few weeks, we can't wait to welcome them back 2 December."
Other operators have told The Caterer that they see pivoting to takeaway and delivery as a long-term strategy even once restrictions are lifted. However, battered by closures, reduced trade and restrictions over the last seven months, businesses remain on a knife edge and leaders in the sector have called for equal, if not more, support to what was provided during the first lockdown earlier this year to ensure they can survive.