Updated 22nd May 2020
Thank you so much to everyone who has emailed, tweeted, texted or called with messages of support. Those messages, along with stories like this one, wherein Hawksmoor tops the poll of restaurants Londoners most want to come back to, have been extremely heart-warming for us (Will & Huw) and everyone who works at Hawksmoor.
We are now able to start looking forward to brighter days. Soon we’ll be in touch with everyone to let them know about our plans for reopening our restaurants and start feeding people and hopefully lifting a few spirits along the way, and of course we’ll let you know how we’ll do that safely. We may even have one or two other surprises up our sleeve, as well as news of what we’ve been doing to try and support others during this crisis If you want to be amongst the first to know (or book!) you can sign up to our mailing list at the bottom of this page.
Two questions we’ve been asked a lot are: when can we book? and will our vouchers still be valid? Well, as soon as we know when restaurants can open we’ll confirm our own plans and let you know immediately after that. And yes, of course your vouchers will still be valid – don’t worry about it, we’re not going to let them expire!
Updated 28th March 2020
We wanted to get in touch to let you know a bit about Hawksmoor and how we’ve reacted to the Coronavirus crisis. As we write this we have the words of a magazine we read recently in our mind, admonishing its readers that, ‘brands are not your friends!’. That is of course true, but our sense at Hawksmoor is that people who work here have a strong attachment to the people who come into our restaurants and that many of you have a strong attachment not to the brand, but to the people who personify it so well. As a result, we’re going to focus our email to you today on people.
The last few weeks have been the most difficult any of us at Hawksmoor have experienced in our professional lives. On a personal note if you want to know what that was like, I (Will) recorded a podcast this week about it, which is about 40 minutes long and can be found here. The most difficult day was of course Tuesday 17th, when we closed all our restaurants and laid off some of the wonderful people who worked at Hawksmoor, in a week that saw thousands of business close and between 500,000 and 1 million people lose their jobs in hospitality alone.
The case for closing the restaurants was clear to us – the Prime Minister had said that people should not be going to restaurants and it was clear that the single most important thing that we needed to think of as restaurateurs and company directors was public health. It was an incredibly hard decision on a personal level, but a very easy one in terms of being undoubtedly the right thing to do.
The decision to lay off some of our colleagues was much more difficult. We’ve never had to make a decision like it and it was a deeply painful step to have to take. In fact, over the last 2 weeks we’ve had to make a host of decisions the likes of which we haven’t encountered before. On some days we’ve had to make them every hour, with incomplete information and a landscape that changes so fast that half a day often feels more like a week. It’s been 14-hour days seven days a week for many of us for well over a fortnight.
On Monday last week it became obvious that we were moments away from having £0 revenue but massive costs. We felt we needed to make a decision to protect Hawksmoor, not for financial reasons, but so we could one day get back to being the business we’ve all loved for so many years, employing as many people as we ever did and hopefully more. We also wanted to save as many jobs as we felt we could at the time – even before the Chancellor’s announcement on Friday we had worked out how we were going to protect hundreds of jobs throughout this crisis.
The good news for all of us is that following the Chancellor’s announcement last Friday we are now going to be able to bring those people back so they can get the support they deserve during this crisis. We are writing to all of them today to give them the option of coming back into the company on a furloughed basis.
We are also doing everything we can to support our team in other ways, with details on how they can get further financial and emotional support, ideas of how to make their money go further, and to try to keep people connected during any self-isolation or social distancing.
That is the new reality of our company. We are now temporarily a small support organisation for the people who work here and for our wider community, and we are continuing to operate under the Hawksmoor assumption that if we look after our people they will be able to look after others.
We have already seen an incredible swell of activity and altruism from our teams, from signing up to be NHS volunteers, helping out in their local communities or being temporary delivery drivers for City Harvest, to whom we donated all our food last week to help feed those who need it most. Over the coming weeks we hope to do more.
Knowing how to communicate with you during this period is difficult. I know none of you are at home wondering what a steak restaurant thinks about the current crisis, what its owners do for an exercise routine or what its chefs had for their lunch today. We do have some ideas for ways in which we could perhaps try to brighten up your days very briefly or how we could bring people together, even virtually, and if you have any ideas then we would be glad to hear them, but that is not for now. We serve a very clear purpose in your lives – a place where you feel welcomed, refreshed and looked after.
We are certain that those times will come again, and hopefully soon, but however long it takes to beat this virus we will be there on the other side waiting for you. We’re looking forward to that more than you can imagine. In the meantime, stay safe and know that the many hundreds of people who work at Hawksmoor are fine and looking forward to celebrating and commiserating with you again when this is over.
Updated 17th March 2020
Today we have made the most difficult decisions we have ever made or that we ever hope to make in future.
As of tomorrow we will temporarily close all of the Hawksmoor restaurants – I feel that that is clearly what the government is advising us to do even if they are not mandating it. It is clearly in the interest of public health to do so and nothing is more important than that, in particular our responsibilities to the elderly and the vulnerable.
I have also had to end the employment of some of the wonderful people who work at Hawksmoor. We have tried to treat those people as fairly as possible, paying full notice and we are trying to give them every guidance on how they can get extra support during these difficult times. We have also told them that what has happened today doesn’t prevent them in any way from being part of the company again in the future and we will stay in touch with them to offer any support and information we can.
This enables us to make sure that Hawksmoor survives – not because of money or profit, but in order that the thing that we have all spent much of our professional lives building can go back to being a place where we can look after as many staff and customers as possible for years to come.
We have made these difficult decisions in order to do what we can to protect the jobs of the hundreds of people we still employ during what may be a prolonged period of closure.
This is of course tragic, and incredibly difficult for everyone. However, Hawksmoor will survive and we will quickly turn our attention to how we get through this period and what we can do to lend our strength to others who may need it. We hope that the government step in as promised to provide the safety net that so many people desperately need.
To our regular customers – we won’t be providing delivery or click and collect. We will be focussing on our staff and whether we can help more people. We also believe other restaurant businesses will need your custom more. Many of you have made the kind offer or gesture to buy vouchers. While we’re thrilled by the support and that option is still available on our shop, we would recommend giving that support to smaller businesses who need it more.
To anyone else reading this, please do not judge any restaurateurs making different decisions and keeping their restaurants open, or people choosing to visit them. If they are open and going to restaurants it’s because the government has effectively said that that is OK, albeit in smaller numbers. They have their situation and we have ours.
Thank you to the many people who have been in touch to check how we are and to wish us all the best. Stay safe and healthy, look after yourselves and your loved ones and thank you very much for all your loyalty and enthusiasm over the years. We can’t wait to raise a glass with you in one of our restaurants when this is all over.