food & drink

Swim or sink

When a restaurant's business is hit by something as devastating as Covid-19, the losses can be terminal. A revolutionary approach is required and the ability to think outside the box may be the difference between life and death.

Copenhagen's Noma, regularly nominated as the world's best restaurant, did not hesitate to turn itself into an outdoor burger and wine bar. On opening night everything sold out in an hour. The famous Claridge's hotel in London is now in the takeaway business, offering fried chicken, three side dishes and a dessert for 40 euros.

In some northern European countries employees are being given the opportunity to run bars and restaurants on their own account during what would normally be closing hours, paying a nominal 'rental' for the privilege.

In the USA restaurants that would only function for lunch and dinner are opening for breakfast, tea, even late-night drinking. It is likely that once these practices become established, they will continue, as social distancing vastly reduces income and profits.

So what about those establishments that invested heavily in Plexiglas screens to separate customers now that social distancing regulations make such divisions unnecessary?

Everyone agrees on one thing though, menus will be shorter generally, and four-hour lunches will remain little more than pleasant memories. Much to the regret of those of us who have spent some of our happiest hours ensconced in good restaurants enjoying the company of friends and the products of a good chef, current advice is that the less time we spend in such places the better for our health.