Supporting the recovery of hospitality
Most of the hospitality industry has been open a month now and it’s been fantastic to visit new places and see some of my old favourites. As a supplier to the industry, I am passionate about supporting hospitality wherever possible and I have already enjoyed experiences at everything from my local café to fine dining restaurants. Everywhere I’ve visited has been busy and one operator described it as “every day is like Mother’s Day”. Some restaurants are so busy it’s actually hard to get a booking, but this is what hospitality needs and deserves after having to remain shut for so long during the national lockdowns.
It’s back to business
I am actually writing this whilst sat in Sloane Square, London and there is plenty of hustle and bustle with busy restaurants and cafes. What I’m witnessing in the city is the same where I live, and I also experienced this on a family holiday in Broadstairs. It feels like all areas are bouncing back and across all sectors. Even when the weather was poor in May, people were prepared to sit in the cold, wind, and rain to support the industry and enjoy those hospitality experiences that so many of us have been craving, for so long.
Operators are becoming more natural at managing COVID-19 protocols and it’s now becoming second nature to consumers. If I was to highlight one area that is taking longer to get back to “normal” that would be local village pubs. People generally go to those venues to connect with others in the community but table service and the rule of six prohibits that. I think once restrictions are fully lifted the atmosphere will be back in local pubs across the UK.
What’s new in the industry?
The pandemic has fast-tracked the emergence of some new concepts. Hospitality is traditionally an industry that sees businesses come and go but there’s plenty of new openings to enjoy. I think COVID-19 has accelerated this for some who may have put off this opportunity previously. I am seeing more health food, vegan concepts and local delis. There are more mid-range places that cater for everyone’s needs, where you can have a coffee or a wine, a full meal or just a salad, making them ideal places for friends or colleagues to meet.
In terms of design, we were already seeing a move to higher quality looking venues. Gone are the days of your traditional greasy spoon, everything feels more upmarket. I believe the pandemic will have accelerated this trend further as consumers want confidence that they are getting high quality, regardless of the price point. Everyone has had to look at their offering and ensure they are able to stand out from the crowd as the industry reopens. Lockdown has given business owners time to reflect on their businesses and see what improvements could be made.
A summer of staycations
Looking ahead, I think it’s going to be a great summer here in the UK. With such a question mark over international travel, people have opted for booking UK holidays whilst they can get them, so I expect to see busy hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes, especially in those popular tourist or city break destinations.
Helping new hospitality ventures
The reopening of the industry is also keeping the Chiller Box team busy. We have just started working with Neat Burger, an exciting vegan burger concept. This was a business that started pre-pandemic, but they are now looking to expand, and we are excited to play a part in that journey. We’ve also been working with TikTok star Rob Huysinga who is opening Bubba Café in Islington. This is the type of place you can enjoy all day with a deli style offering by day and drinks and delicious food at night. I can also see this being an inspiring place for those working from home to visit during the day.
In April, we saw Ignite Gym open and our role for this was installing the ventilation and air conditioning. This element of our business has become more important than ever as operators look to minimise the risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 at their venue.
We’re also working with a restaurant group who operate dining venues in workplaces and are looking to grow in some of the UK’s biggest cities as people return to offices. Watch this space for more details over the coming months.
It’s so important to the Chiller Box team that we play our part in the reopening and rebuilding of the hospitality industry. We are excited to see the industry get back on its feet and for us to be part of that recovery is something special. There are some great opportunities out there right now. Whilst the recovery may still be bumpy, I am confident we are all through the worst. If you have been thinking about starting a new hospitality venture, now is a good time to get your concept off the ground and grow as the economy recovers.