The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit areas of the lockdown. Maria Broadbent, of CASA in Bury St Edmunds, outlines the changes her business is making to ensure everyone can enjoy a safe return to eating out and how you can help
Firstly, we would like to thank all of those people who have supported us and other restaurants, bars and cafés during lockdown. We extend our sympathy to anyone who has lost a loved one over this difficult time.
Moving to the next stage is a challenge for this industry. Many businesses are reopening, others such as ourselves are going to have to adjust again to a new way of operating. We will all need understanding and compassion from our customers – which given the nature of the residents of this lovely town is not going to be a problem. What you can do to help is:
- Carry your own sanitizer (we will all be providing it too, of course)
- Provide contact details at the point of booking
- Let places know in advance if you need to cancel (as space will be limited)
- Only use toilets if really necessary to reduce surface contact (businesses, of course, will be cleaning these even more regularly)
- Pre-order if possible – this will help food businesses plan their orders and staffing (this will be key as economies of scale will be impeded by distancing)
- Being patient and tolerant as businesses and their staff settle into a rhythm #bekind
- Continue to support the local hospitality industry by using takeaway services if you aren’t dining out
- Please follow the individual requests by the establishments you are visiting as these will vary from place to place (the government document offers guidelines not rules and each business will interpret these differently)
- Be prepared to pay a deposit to secure a table (as availability will be limited).
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT CASA
With the promise of release from lockdown this weekend – we are all very excited! After more than three months of having no customers in the building, we are getting ready to welcome regulars and new guests alike. Because we have been trading seven days every week we have not had the opportunity to paint and decorate, so we have had a mad two-week flurry of activity.
Lockdown set us a whole host of challenges and the loosening of the restrictions poses a few more conundrums. The government guidelines are 43 pages long! However, having had a number of the team read them we believe that most of it is just common sense and a genuine desire to keep customers and staff safe. Things we have had to consider and implement include:
- Sanitiser stations and spray bottles for staff
- Posters stating measures taken
- Measuring between tables (indoors and out)
- Staff training to ensure the customer experience is impacted as little as possible with any new measures
- Purchasing sachets of all condiments
- Additional cleaning schedules in place.
Two weeks ago we agreed with Peatlings to use the old wine shop as a venue space and additional restaurant seating. In the short to medium term this means we will be able to spread out our existing tables to accommodate the same number of covers we have previously but with social distancing. The additional space also more than doubles our outside seating area – especially helpful given that many customers have expressed a preference for sitting outdoors when possible.
It also means we can facilitate:
- Weddings and private parties (these can for now be smaller numbers and socially distanced)
- Wine tastings
- Cookery demos
- Business breakfasts
We also wanted to ensure we can reintroduce dining in without compromising the takeaway service, afternoon teas and sandwich deliveries that have developed over the past few months. When we moved to these premises in May 2016 some customers felt we lost some of our Mediterranean quirkiness. The recent refurb brings this back – our new bar is covered with Mediterranean-style tiles and has moved to the front section of the building. This extends to where the reception desk was and houses our stunning coffee machine, where we will be serving Butterworth’s locally-roasted coffee.
To accommodate the takeaway service, and so people collecting food don’t disturb diners, we are converting the righthand side into a takeaway/coffee shop area. Local ice creams for scooping to eat in or takeaway, salads, wraps and sandwiches. You can also buy our wines, halloumi and chorizo, etc, to takeaway.
We just want you to feel you are on holiday!
These dishes are sold as a combo on our menu but you can cook this at home and it makes a great barbecue dish, too. The chicken is also good cold with some mayo in a sandwich, a wrap or a salad. Both are gluten free, dairy free and can be made vegetarian or vegan.
4 red chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoon tomato purée
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons red chilli flakes
40ml (3 tablespoons) red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 tablespoon salt
125ml pomace or rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Blitz together in a food processor – store in an airtight container (will keep for 4 days)
Marinate (preferably overnight) raw chicken cubes, raw king prawns, halloumi or firm tofu.
Pan fry in a little oil or skewer and cook on a barbecue.
BRAZILIAN GAUCHO POTATO SALAD
500 grams new potatoes (I used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference British Gems)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
100 grams frozen peas defrosted
1 carrot (medium-sized raw, peeled)
2 shallots (very finely sliced)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (vegan can be used)
Boil the potatoes whole till a knife goes in easily. Cool under running water.
Cut into small pieces when cool.
Dice the carrot to the same size as peas and sweetcorn – boil these for about 5 minutes, drain and cool.
Very thinly slice the apple and the shallots.
Blanch the peas and sweetcorn by dropping into boiling water and cooking for 2 minutes.
Mix everything together and add fresh chopped parsley.
Maria Broadbent is owner of Mediterranean restaurant CASA in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Tel 01284 701313
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