Covid: A tenth of Britain’s restaurants lost during pandemic

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Monday sees another milestone in the reopening of the economy: people in most of the UK will be able to go to a bar or restaurant and eat indoors.

But some favourite haunts will no longer be there: over the last year, thousands of establishments have closed, latest surveys indicate.

Across Britain, there are 9.7% fewer restaurants to choose from, compared with before the pandemic.

And mid-market “casual dining” venues have fallen by 19.4%.

The data in the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners suggests that while many pubs and bars have also struggled to survive the pandemic, it is restaurants that have fared worst.

That includes places such as Oskar Ali’s in Newport in Wales. Oskar and his wife opened Falafilo Island, serving grilled meats and vegetables and falafel, in August 2018.

They invested thousands of pounds to set up the business, transforming the dark interior with a cheerful yellow ceiling and tree-patterned walls.

“We had so many lovely customers, but corona just hit us so hard, we had to close,” Oskar told BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme.

They hoped a busy Christmas might save them, but Oskar’s wife caught Covid and they had to isolate for two weeks.

“Then it was January and we thought: we should just close,” he says. “We couldn’t survive, even with the grants they gave.”

Oskar, a computer science graduate, now has thousands of pounds of debt and is looking for other work.


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