Jack Stein: “The article was completely unacceptable when our entire industry is in the weeds.”

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th April 2020

Jack Stein has spoken out following the terrible abuse his dad and the Rick Stein Restaurant Group received after The Daily Mail article which said, ‘they had refused to pay staff wages while his restaurants are closed due to coronavirus’.

“The headline is completely misleading. We got lumped in with the likes of Wetherspoons and Virgin and it’s been a nightmare,” explained Jack.

“The article was completely unacceptable when our entire industry is in the weeds.”

Following the government announcement telling people to avoid going to restaurant’s bars and other leisure venues in early March, Jack said that the company, which is in the top 100 companies to work for, immediately looked at its cash flow.

“As a restaurant business you need cash to run and once cash runs out you cease to be. Coming out of winter is a bad time for seasonal businesses like ours which make a lot money in the summer, so it was the worst time for it to hit.”

The group had arranged special pandemic cover a decade ago after the SARS outbreak which means they are covered for 24 months up to £50m, Jack explained ‘it’s extremely expensive, a third more than your standard insurance’.

They took the view that ‘as a seasonal business, wintertime is when these pandemics do hit’ and if it hit in winter when they have no cash flow it would really affect them. Despite instantly putting the claim together and going to the insurance company, they still had to act ‘like a normal business without insurance’.

Jack said: “You can never be guaranteed with insurance. Our cashflow was saying we were going to go bust at the end of April, out of the game and we would lose 650 employees.

“Then the government furlough scheme came in and that was great, it would give us enough cashflow until August and it gave us time to get the insurance money.”

They told staff ‘early’ what cashflow they had so they could be ‘prepared’ and that the last payment run would be the 10th of April and they would be paid for the two weeks up until closure.

“Between now and then if the insurance came through or the bank agreed we could have the money because we had insurance then we would pay them in full.

“We’ve done the right thing by our people; they are right behind us and we don’t want to lose a single job and we want to reopen all of our restaurants like everyone does.”

Jack felt the comments online ‘were quite nasty’, he said: “Especially when they are personally against my dad, I get angry and defensive, he’s my dad and I love the guy. I find it hard not to reply because it has hit me emotionally and it’s not just my dad, it’s the 650 employers some of which I have known my whole life. These are people who have worked for us for 45 years, I can’t imagine life without them.

“What people said it upset me let’s just put it that way and that’s the least kitchen way I can think to say it.”

Businesses are still unsure when the government scheme is going to start to pay or how people will get paid.

Jack said: “Our livelihoods are on the line. If the insurance money doesn’t come through, we will still go bust in August.”

He added: “We have insurance and we need it paying. I feel very sorry for other people in the industry who don’t have it but when we are being singled out, I’m saying we’ve got it, we made a smart move and they need to pay us.”

There were calls on social media for Rick ‘to put his hand in his pocket’ to cover the £250,000 weekly wage bill. Jack explained as a family business they ‘don’t have that cash just lying around’.

“Our money is tied up in the property we have bought with our profits and reinvesting back into our business. We reinvest all of our profits and we don’t take dividends and our top execs have forgone their pay because of this thing.”

He added: “We are all learning; we are all in unchartered territory and we are fighting tooth and nail for our people.”

Jack says that his dad ‘is obviously devastated’ but he’s ‘a full believer that we will recover, and we will bounce back’.

“Once we know we are secure, we will look at how we can help other businesses. We don’t want everyone to go bust around us, we want Cornwall to be open for business.

“We will as a big company make sure our voice is being added to everyone else’s to make sure our industry is getting looked after.” 

Jack and the team have set up food deliveries to the local NHS workers at the hospital in Truro as well as making free food for the local community.

“We are doing everything we can to help and at the end of the day we will come out of it.

“Our industry is an amazing industry and we all help each other but at the moment with our businesses closed we need to help those most vulnerable and people who need it.”

In these challenging times…

…the hospitality landscape has dramatically changed in the last two months, and with that our advertising revenues have all but expired, significantly impacting our business. Despite having to furlough a large portion of our staff, we are still delivering the valuable content and honest information, which hundreds of thousands of you come to The Staff Canteen for. We believe we have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs, are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector.

Your financial support means we remain independent and open to all. We were launched by a chef and remain the voice of chefs and other hospitality professionals.

We need your support to keep delivering the products and content that you love, giving you the platform to share opinions and inspiration. Every contribution whether big or small, means so much.
Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th April 2020

Jack Stein: “The article was completely unacceptable when our entire industry is in the weeds.”