As the country starts emerging from three months in lockdown, we ask some of Devon’s hospitality and food producers, what life has been like.
At the beginning of the year, we were looking towards a new decade in anticipation of a fresh start from the hard slog of the last decade. A fresh start. But nobody could have imagined that three months in, normal life would be so dramatically changed.
In reaction to the Novel Coronavirus, our country went into a lockdown that has presently changed the very essence of how we do business. Many businesses closed their doors by order of the government, and for some this would be for the last time. In the wake, hospitality businesses across the country have been fighting to stay afloat. Some had to close their doors completely, others have adapted by offering a take-away or delivery service.
According to a BBC article “Sales across the sector are expected to be 56% lower than last year, reducing revenues by £73.4bn and half of businesses do not expect to reach break even until the end of next year”.
Now the lockdown is easing, I wanted to ask hospitality businesses across Devon, what it was like to be put into such a tough position. In this first of a series of interviews that we’ll be publishing over the next few weeks, we’re going to share some of these experiences. We asked a few of businesses about how things went and the what the future holds.
Nick and Tina run The Cadeleigh Arms in Cadeleigh, an award-winning gastropub near Tiverton. We visited them in February on a rainy lunch-date, and had some absolutely exquisite food. They’ve won various accolades, and have a solid base of support amongst those in the community.
The pub is one of the top fifty Gastropubs in the UK, according to Estrella. It has also won Devon Life Pub of the Year 2018 and Chef/Owner Nick Hack won Devon Life Chef of the Year 2018 as well – add a Taste of the West Gold 2018 and 2019 to the list of accolades. And Restaurant Guru, Best Restaurant 2019.
1. What is the name of your business, and what do you?
The Cadeleigh Arms, Nicholas Hack & Tina King. Chef/Patrons
2. How long have you been in business?
Seven years back in Devon. Four and a half years at Il Casita in Crediton crossing over with four years here at the Cadeleigh
3. The last few months have been unprecedented, as we are reminded often, can you take me through what it was like for you when lockdown was announced?
Initial panic. Money worries, future bookings, deposits. Uncertainty and anxiety.
4. How did your customers respond to begin with?
Our customers were very supportive. Many of them insisted we hold deposits until they could return to dine with us in the future.
5. What did you find particularly challenging adapting to a new way of doing things?
We always find a way to adapt in this industry. So it was a very easy transition into takeaway. We still wanted to create our seasonal and sustainable menus for takeaway, but also include pub favourites. We also added an IGTV channel with foraging and cookery lessons. We haven’t released the bloopers yet!
6. It might be an obvious question, but how has closing your doors completely affected your business?
Closing the doors, even though we do takeaway, has still had a massive impact on our business. No insurance for business interruption, staff furloughed and running costs still to pay for.
7. Was there anything that you felt went particularly well? Any big positives to take away?
Feedback on all takeaway was so well received and well supported it made us both feel happy. It was nice to see a friendly face at our takeaway hatch. I think they enjoyed seeing us also.
8. Moving forward post-lockdown, do you see your business changing long-term, and if so, how do you think it will change?
We had a long chat with our good friend Tim at Ode last week. We agreed it is like a reset button has been pushed for the whole industry. For us that can, we are going to embrace a new beginning, new menus, new ideas. The lockdown has given us so much time to get things ready that we just wouldn’t have had time to do during normal catering hours. Customers might be a little more cautious, however it is our job to make their experience with us safe, fun and memorable for the right reasons.
9. What would you say to anyone who has discovered an independent business who has supported them through lockdown?
We have thanked them personally, but we need everybody to keep supporting them, and us, all the way and hopefully we will all come through this. We have started an instagram post everyday to champion local. Everybody that has used us, we hope to welcome you soon!
Visit The Cadeleigh Arms website – https://www.thecadeleigharms.com/
Telephone: 01884 855238