THE Dorset restaurant renovation, described as “absolutely shattering”, was overshadowed by a huge loss of business amid “no Covid clarity”.
Popular fish restaurant SoboFish, located in Bournemouth, recently reopened after a £ 90,000 refurbishment.
Owner Matt Betteridge said, “Love it, they did an absolutely amazing job. We see the renovation as an investment, so every penny we made this summer went into it.
“When I took over in 2020, the restaurant was adequate but not what we wanted for the future. We now believe it’s brighter, more comfortable, and in line with the high quality, fresh local food we sell.
However, despite the renovation’s success, Matt says “it all went wrong” when the government’s plan B announcement left the hospitality industry without “clarity” and saw initially strong Christmas bookings. fall.
He said: “There was a lot of excitement after the renovation and the locals were eager to come back which was great for us. The first week of December, we were absolutely thrilled. Then in the second week after the announcements, everything went wrong.
“We lost 30% of our bookings, mostly large groups of eight to 10 people, which means customers are getting their deposits back, so it was difficult.
“I have the impression that there was no clarity at all and to announce [Plan B] two weeks before Christmas was played. Of course, it’s not just us, it’s everyone in hospitality and retail. I have a friend with a store and her sales are down [up to] 40 percent.
Matt says the government cash injection grant of £ 6,000 is a “fraction” of what restaurants need in the current uncertainty. He says it costs £ 8,000 a week to stay open and believes another leave scheme would be more beneficial for those working in the hospitality industry.
He said: “There are 15 people working here, including me, and I have a great team. I’m worried about my staff and keeping them here – it’s just not fair to them because they have bills to pay.
SoboFish closed on December 18 to “cut its losses” before Christmas but hopes to reopen on Wednesday January 5, 2022.
Matt concluded, “We plan to come back in January because we want to be open. We can’t really plan for anything right now, but it’s a tough month for the entire industry.
“What I can say is that we did this once and we were successful, and we will do it again.”