I have been fortunate enough to make amazing memories and experience great moments in restaurants over time. From the restaurants in Bucharest, where I celebrated birthdays, friendships, and local musicians, to the restaurants in New York and on the Eastern coast of the United States, where I discovered cuisines from all around the world and tastes I had not experienced, to London and its surrounding counties, where restaurants have equally delighted me and kept me occupied. And how could I ignore the restaurants of Naples and Florence, where I found not only amazing food and the passion that went into putting it on the table, but also how to enjoy it while dolce far niente, a priceless feeling in life.
Restaurants are not just places where I have had superb meals. They have opened up the world to me physically and sensorially, given me access to the wider community and made me feel part of the local and international fabric.
I am grateful to the restaurants in my corner of the world in London that have worked continuously throughout the lockdown. They made me feel like the world retained a grain of normality at times when things felt really dark. Sometimes their take-out teams were the only people I would have face-to-face interaction with for several days in a row. Keeping at it while the whole world was standing still must not have been easy for them either.
I have already gone back to some favourite places since they have opened – Gordon’s Heddon Street Kitchen, Hot Stone in Chapel Market, and discovered new legendary places at Riddle & Finns The Lanes and The Salt Room in Brighton this weekend, too.
Aside from the efforts these places have all made to protect their staff and guests from this nefarious virus (i.e. distanced tables, hand sanitising gel aplenty, cashless operations, guest registration, doing their jobs wearing masks and gloves) and all the sacrifices they have endured, I have found brave and professional teams with a smile on their faces and proud chefs keen to prepare fantastic food and to delight their customers.
“It’s been really busy since we opened again on the 4th of July, it’s good to be back working, interacting with customers and properly earning a living”, said the girl who looked after me at The Salt Room yesterday.
I am glad it’s been busy, and I hope it stays that way.
If you’re looking for businesses to support as we emerge from lockdown aiming to build a better life, your local restaurants and old-time favourites are a good place to start. And please be brave and venture further out, find new places, dishes and cuisines to experience, people to meet and teams to support.
They’ll appreciate you not just for your business, but also for your company.