Dundee restaurateurs have been left counting the cost of Christmas bookings lost as a result of coronavirus.
Paddi Lochi, who runs Italian restaurant Don Michele, on the Perth Road, says he could lose “thousands of pounds” worth of bookings as a result of Level 3 restrictions.
Paddi – who runs the restaurant with wife Lisa and daughter Ava – said bookings were around 80% down compared to a normal year.
The 43-year-old said: “At the moment we are clueless what to do, clueless because we don’t know if there’s going to be a lockdown again over a period of months, or just a few weeks.
“But that’s exactly how this whole thing started, it was supposed to be three weeks and it ended up being three months.”
Paddi said he understood the government had to protect the public and he was making his premises as safe as possible.
He also said he was being “as patient as possible” but Christmas was now just six weeks away.
Alongside neighbouring regions, Dundee is in Level 3 of the Scottish ‘tier system’ meaning no alcohol can be served indoors or outside, and premises must close by 6pm.
Dropping down to Level 2 would allow customers to drink alcohol indoors with the purchase of a main meal until 8pm.
Paddi said: “Since the 6pm rule was put in, I would say we are about 80% down on Christmas bookings. I can’t take a booking for 5pm because they need to be out by 6pm.
“If this continues and we lose the 80% of customers we would usually have for Christmas bookings, it would be going into thousands of pounds.
“We do some deliveries and takeaways to keep ourselves busy but it’s not going to come close to covering the cost.”
I never thought I would see this in my lifetime.”
Paddi Lochi, owner of the Don Michele Italian restaurant.
“Christmas Day is a family day, especially for us Italians too. We’re sitting down, cooking things and enjoying a day,” he said.
“Christmas to me is more about households together but I don’t know if it’s going to even happen this year.
“I never thought I was going to see this in my lifetime.
“It’s impossible to run a restaurant from midday until 6pm.”
‘This year we’re down about 70% in bookings’
Kevin Webster, owner of Porters Bar & Restaurant in City Quay said sales “fell off a cliff” when Level 3 restrictions came in.
Kevin, 37, said: “It’s going to have a huge impact. December is our saving grace in the hospitality industry because it gives you that cashflow position and the assurance that you’re going to get through the quieter months – January into mid-February.
“For businesses without savings, the next few months could be bleak,” he warned.
Kevin praised the Scottish Government, saying there was very little more Holyrood could have done to help the hospitality industry.
He added: “Luckily the furlough scheme was put in place and we could close last week. But I think unless there’s a lot of support from the government then I really fear for businesses if we don’t get the Christmas trade.
“If I’m being honest I don’t think this is going to be turned around and they’re going to allow two weeks of mayhem in December and then pay the price for it in January and February, while we’re really trying to protect the NHS.
“We were doing pretty well leading up to the change in alcohol sales. We were as busy as we’ve ever been and with the assistance we got from the government, we managed to get through.
Our sales just fell off a cliff.”
Kevin Webster, owner of Porters Bar and Restaurant.
“But what our trade predominantly is, is sit-down meals and alcohol and it just fell off a cliff when the restrictions were getting tightened. Our sales dropped 70%.
“In November, in the first week, we would usually be almost fully booked, but this year we’re down about 70% in bookings.
“The knock-on effect that has on the likes of our suppliers, and just the whole festive spirit, it’s just not going to be there this year.
Kevin said he felt for customers too, who would lose out at Christmas.
“People on their own, who go out for a pint and stuff like that, or out to their local restaurant and meet friends, I think the social impact, I just feel sorry for that,” he said.
“And the older generation as well, who are retired and just want to go out and enjoy themselves and just can’t do it.”