Andy Hook, managing director of Blackfriars, Newcastle, talks to us about the important changes made to his restaurant to make it safe for staff and customers, and his experience with the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.
Here we are at Blackfriars, a former Dominican 13th century friary.
We have survived all these years, and we have survived I guess by producing great kinds of local food – using local, seasonal, fresh produce. We were looking forward to a really fantastic year, and then of course the whispers of Coronavirus came in. No one knew what it was about.
It was really at the beginning of March it began to worry the whole hospitality industry. When we eventually had to shut our doors, it was heart-breaking.
Then we felt that we were being treated seriously and we were a focus for the Government. We re-opened our doors on 4 July, and we followed all the necessary Government guidance including staggered arrivals, reduced capacity, we take people’s temperature and we have Perspex screens, and we’ve littered the whole place with hand gel. Everyone seems to feel very safe. The staff feel safe. The customers feel safe.
The Eat Out to Help Out Scheme has been phenomenal. It is fair to say we have been packed out on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
So, we are confident that August is going to be a good month for us.