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Restaurants plan to be mini-supermarkets in bid to fix food shortages and catering lay-offs

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 18/03/2020 JIM ARMITAGE
a group of people standing in front of a store © Provided by Evening Standard

Restaurants and caterers stricken by Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown are planning to solve supermarkets’ growing food shortages by selling directly to the public.

The plan is hoped to stave off thousands of bankruptcies and lay-offs in the catering industry, which has been crippled by the collapse in custom at hotels and restaurants.

John Vincent, founder of the Leon chain of restaurants, is putting together a project with international hospitality provider Absolute Taste to sell pre-packaged meals and ambient sauces to the public through delivery to the door and Leon’s chain of restaurants.

Other restaurants and caterers are being invited to join the scheme. Vincent said: “Until last week half of the UK’s meals were provided by restaurants and half by supermarkets.

“On the one hand supermarkets can’t cope, on the other people in the food service industry are telling their people there are no jobs.

“For the sake of everyone in the UK, for customers and employees, we need to find a solution fast.” Vincent will switch his Leon chain from being fast-food restaurants to mini-supermarkets, selling restaurant-quality ready meals, sauces, meats and other foods that customers can then store and eat at home.

He and Nigel Harris of Absolute Taste are planning to set up an online platform for customers to order their food to be delivered to the door.

Harris said: “There are butchers for hotels, pubs, restaurants. There are suppliers of fruit and veg employing thousands of people and they will all go bust after Boris did his job on restaurants.

“We think we can create a platform for delivering to the home.”

Restaurants, pubs and hotels this week cancelled supply contracts with their caterers in a desperate bid to save cash, threatening long-term damage to farms and other producers.

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