16th June 2020
For more information on how we are COVID-19 secure, please see here.
This lockdown and pandemic has obviously brought some of the most difficult times we’ve known, but many people have also experienced some real moments of happiness and appreciated the time to think about what matters, we’re writing to you about what we’ve been up to and some of the things that are lifting our spirits, not least … we may be able to start opening our restaurants again in July and soon you will be able to bring Hawksmoor into your home … !
We’ve had four goals since we shut down in March: survive, bounce back, support our team and help others. Surviving has been tricky … the JRS has helped of course, but we haven’t been able to access the government-backed loan scheme yet, and have only had a very small number of positive conversations with landlords, but like Gloria Gaynor we will survive, and we’ve been part of talking to the government to try and make sure as much of our beloved industry survives too.
Planning a bounce-back has kept us all going – the thought that not only will the restaurants re-open, but we’re going to try and do everything we can to make sure that Hawksmoor is even better than before. We want to do that for everyone who works with us, but more than anything we want to do it for you – this lockdown is a reminder that restaurants do so much more than feed us, they feed our souls. Restaurants are about people … being with people you care about, laughing, talking, learning and enjoying each other’s company. We can’t wait to get back.
Our plan is to open one restaurant in London as soon as practical, learn as much as we can about doing a great job in these new circumstances, and then apply that learning to getting the rest of the restaurants open as soon as possible after that, making sure we prioritise ‘doing it right’ over ‘doing it quickly’. The government’s intended but un-confirmed date is 4th July at the earliest in England, and probably not until August in Scotland. We will let you know as soon as we can!
We’ve also been working on a few ideas for ordering ‘Hawksmoor at Home’, so people can enjoy what we do in their own homes irrespective of where they live in the UK or how soon they want to come back to restaurants. We’ll be launching this soon in small numbers (again, we’d rather try and do something great than fast or in huge numbers, especially at the beginning!).
We currently have almost 700 people on furlough, and one of the real joys about starting to open up restaurants will be bringing those who are able back to work. We’ve been in regular contact with them all, trying to provide additional support where required, and we’ve shared with them many of the lovely messages some of you have sent us about your feelings about Hawksmoor, most of which talk about the wonderful people who work here.
And finally, perhaps the greatest privilege during all of this has been supporting some of the exceptional people and organisations that have stepped up during this crisis. We have continued our support for the charities closest to our hearts who are dealing with greater need than ever, but huge shortfalls in funding – charities like Action Against Hunger, Magic Breakfast, City Harvest, Wood St Mission in Manchester and Social Bite in Edinburgh.
We’ve also been cooking. So far we’ve made well over 10,000 meals for people needing nutritious meals across the country. We’re very proud and happy to have been able to support: Cook-19, the London Food Alliance, Pepys Social and Evelyn Estates Supermarket projects, City Harvest, Chefs in Schools, Eat Well Manchester and Soul Food Edinburgh. Lots of incredible Hawksmoor people have also stepped up to volunteer their own time at, amongst other places: City Harvest, Age UK, various food banks, Crisis, Empty Kitchens Full Hearts, Open Kitchen Manchester, the land army (to help pick the UK harvest), and even batching up ‘restorative’ cocktails for the nurses at St George’s hospital in Tooting. The people who run those organisations, whether they are temporary or permanent, are every bit as heroic as the frontline NHS staff, and it has been our honour to be able to support them. Hopefully we will surpass 15,000 meals by the end of the month, and will be able to continue a legacy once we’ve reopened whereby we continue to volunteer for them and cook for the people they support.