Restaurants ask government for 9-month rent holiday
A campaign group supported by restaurant execs asks for a 'National Time Out'
This week, a letter written by the Hospitality Union founder Jonathan Downey, and co-signed by the bosses of Dishoom, Hawksmoor, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, JKS Restaurants (Gymkhana, Lyle’s, Bao, and more), Nando’s, Burger King, and Caravan, among others, made its way to the government.
The letter called for a 9-month rent holiday to protect the restaurant industry from the COVID-19 pandemic – and they've dubbed this rent relief 'National Time Out'.
The existing rent break expires in June, but industry figures are arguing that restaurants will need support until January 2021 if they are going to bounce back from the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19. This seems especially likely given the recent YouGov survey that revealed that most diners will not rush back to restaurants when they do open.
The restaurant industry figures who are driving this change want the landlords to receive relief too.
It says landlords should get "a matching loan and interest payment postponement, as well as protection for them from covenant breach and debt security enforcement."
Among those who have signed the petition is the head of Wahaca, Thomasina Miers. After witnessing the collapse of Carluccio's and Chiquito in the past month, and the fold of Jamie's Italian before the crisis, she is concerned for what remains of the mid-range dining sector.
"Our industry has been hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis, and it will be the last to recover," Thomasina Miers said.
Without government help, she believes that two million jobs and half of restaurants could disappear from the high street.
"If nothing is done, we are talking about 50% of these businesses going under, and two million jobs will be lost. The impact of all those millions of people losing their jobs would be catastrophic for human lives, and equally catastrophic for the economy," she explained.
The industry is hoping to hear back from the government before the end of this week.