The Hospitality Briefing

After winning Tony Blair's old seat in 2019, the Tories taunted Labour by tweeting D.Ream's Things Can Only Get Better, the anthem synonymous with Labour's landslide victory in 1997. When Covid restrictions were dropped last month we also thought things could only get better.

Wrong. Our customers might continue to appreciate what we do at Watson and Walpole but otherwise things have never been tougher, with costs soaring daily.

To cite a few examples: our electricity bill has risen from £700 to £1700 per month; our rates are tripling; butter has gone up by 40%; fish prices are untenable with hitherto cheap lemon sole at £20kg and decent-sized scallops £2.50 each. To serve two as a starter, using standard restaurant margins, we would have to charge at least £18 but up to now we have capped starters at £10 and mains at £20. To top it all, v.a.t will be going back to 20% in April, even though the industry has pled with the Chancellor to allow the reduced rate to continue at least through 2022.

As a neighbourhood restaurant, we want to be accessible to all but how to keep up the quality without commensurate price hikes? As it stands, Things Can Only Get Worse.