No one knows what will happen after lockdown, but now is the time to scrutinise your business to ensure you come back stronger than ever, says David Moore
There has truly never been a time like this: all but essential businesses padlocked, schools closed and most of us confined to our homes.
Times like this stick in our minds for years, even decades to come. For me, the last time was 14 November 2004. I was tasting at Domaine Heresztyn in Gevrey-Chambertin, France, with Lance Foster. At 8.30am my Nokia rang, deep in the cellars. It was Shane Osborn, telling me that Charlotte Street was closed and Pied à Terre was circled with fire engines.
I was back in London by mid-afternoon. On the train my head was full of worries – had the alarm been set (no alarm, no insurance)? Was the five-yearly electrical testing up to date? PAT testing? Fire alarm maintenance? Extinguisher contracts? Any mishaps, there's no insurance, no claim, no future. Five long weeks later, when everything had been checked, the insurers confirmed they would pay out. We reopened 11 months later.
During the closure, Shane and I made a decision to do things differently: new designs, menu layouts and more. It was a reinvention; triumph from tragedy. That's what is needed now.
I'm guessing that post Covid-19, when we can shake hands, embrace and hug again, the hospitality landscape will look very different. Some operators will simply not be there due to cash flow. But, if you are coming back – and Pied à Terre is – I think it will have to be different to what we were doing before.
There will never be another chance like this to sit back and really scrutinise what you do, how you do it, where you do it
No one can predict what life will be like after lockdown, but we can be certain it's not going to be the same. We must be ready for a fight; it will be different and difficult trading times.
Now is the time to look at what you were doing and give your business a full health check – a 360-degree review. There will never be another chance to sit back and really scrutinise what you do, how you do it, where you do it.
Pied à Terre has always been on Charlotte Street, but recent introductions have opened up the idea that we might move to a hotel. This is a time for bold decisions, game changers, adapting to the new and unknown. It's very Darwinian, the survival of the fittest – the survival of those who adapt most easily and quickly.
We will all learn a lot about ourselves in the coming months as we battle our way through this, but it's all about finding the positives in the smallest of things and not giving up.
Pied Project 30
Several weeks ago, Björn Frantzén, the three-Michelin-starred chef from Stockholm, popped into Pied à Terre. I didn't recognise him, but he worked at Pied à Terre in 1999, when Tom Aikens was my partner and chef.
It struck me that we have amazing alumni and that in honour of Pied's 30th birthday, I'd love to reconnect with both chefs and front of house over Pied's history. I'd like to use this as a platform to ask anyone who has worked with us, or know someone who did, to please email me on email@example.com as I kickstart Pied Project 30.
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