'We're confident that we're here to stay now'

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 7th September 2020

Rick Stein's Marlborough restaurant has been rescued from the brink thanks to a deal struck with the property owner. 

After a rocky start to lockdown when the group thought it would have to let go of entire teams to survive as a business, Lloran House went up for sale in the midst of the pandemic, but a deal with the landlord allowed them to keep the Marlborough site for long enough to open again when lockdown measures were lifted.

The group's Porthleven restaurant was sold however, as Gordon Ramsay was purportedly eyeing it up and Michael Caines eventually bought it and relaunched as The Harbourside Refuge at the start of September.

Embracing change

Rick Stein told The Swindon Advertiser that the Wiltshire restaurant had 140 people booked in on the first day it reopened, a positive sign for the future. 

He said: "We're confident that we're here to stay now. It was a real wrench to have to close so we are indebted to the landlord for making it possible for us to hopefully make a modest profit.

Grateful that restaurants were allowed to reopen when they were, he added: "If the reopening date for restaurants had been put off for much longer, this would definitely have gone because the debts would have mounted up too much."

As we all know too well, it would be deluded to expect things to go back to the way they were pre-Covid. Social distancing, reduced menu sizes and face masks are worn by everyone in the kitchen. 

The chef said the menu is cheaper than it once was, as this was "too exclusive." 

"We will still have dishes like that," he added, "but we need to have more value-for-money dishes too and make it more casual, with tables outside and encouraging people to come in just to have light lunch, maybe a dish of mussels and a glass of wine."

Additionally, the restaurant will be offering a discount equivalent to the one subsidised by the government under the Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme Monday through Wednesday throughout September. 

Happy to embrace the changes brought about by the pandemic if it means restaurants can open at all, the chef added: "It's a testament to human beings' ability to put up with change - people were saying 'no-one will like restaurants with the tables further apart' but you don't notice it after a while, it's just nice to be back in a restaurant with that social conviviality, that's what it's all about."

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 7th September 2020

'We're confident that we're here to stay now'