food & drink

Hard times

While governments have reacted differently to limit the spread of the coronavirus, some Spanish bar and restaurant owners may consider that the restrictions here have been too drastic. Compared anyway with places like Hong Kong, where restaurants have grouped together to offer substantial incentives to regulars who eat in more than five restaurants until the end of March. Incredibly the rewards are more restaurant meals, making social distancing difficult to enforce!

In Spain the segregational procedures mean that while larger restaurant groups may be able to survive in the medium term, the smaller ones will probably go under.

Many of the latter category invested their life savings in opening establishments of one kind or another, and deservedly were enjoying both serving their customers and the benefits this brought them.

The current situation of this area of commerce is highlighted by the fact that it has been the first to organise support for its members, although this has so far been piecemeal and poorly structured. But it is a start.

In the US the reaction has been swift and potentially effective, and typical fundraising schemes involve selling meal vouchers at a discount today for use at a future date.

It is unlikely that crowds of diners will be returning to UK or US restaurants any time soon, but we can invariably get meals from one of our favourite restaurants delivered to our home at half the regular menu price.

On both continents home delivery services are taking the strain.

(Postscript: New York-based Spanish chef, José Andrés, and his WCK charity, have already been pitching in on coronavirus relief, taking free food to quarantined cruise ship passengers in various US ports, but the organisation's chefs need financial help to continue preparing meals for those in need during the crisis.)