Let's Eat

Super Sunday: Kosher restaurants post-lockdown

How will eating out be in the new normal at these kosher restaurants?


It will be super Sunday rather than Saturday for kosher restaurants who are opening their doors to eat-in customers this weekend. Summertime Shabbat timings mean that most of our favourite eateries would not have time to open immediately lockdown rules are relaxed tomorrow.

“You can hardly believe the excitement and energy” says Philip Pell, describing his restaurant reopening plans.

It’s been a long few months for Pell, owner of kosher glatt kosher Chinese restaurant, Kai Feng. “One of the real triumphs is that we’ve retained all of our staff. Some have been with us for 25 years!”

During lockdown he was able to operate a full takeaway service and will now be offering the full restaurant menu. “Takeaway trade has been good and solid all the way through. We now want to offer a little bit of the Kai Feng experience to our guests.”

How will that have changed? “We’ve had to redesign the tables and implement a system so we could avoid Perspex screens. The seating at large round tables has been reconfigured into semi-circles to protect our staff” he explains, going on to tell me that they will be taking customers’ temperatures on arrival and — in accordance with Government guidelines — keeping a record of everyone who has eaten there.

“We’re advising people when they book that we’ll be keeping their details.”

Staff will wear masks and gloves and cutlery, glasses and napkins will be provided once the diners are seated. Pell was busy finalising his new menus, which now must be disposable. The main casualty is the Sunday buffet lunch, which, for obvious reasons must come off the menu.

Daniel Urinov, whose family are behind Edgware’s Aviv and Met Su Yan restaurants, is also readying up to reopen his doors to eat-in customers. His eateries will be opening their doors for lunch this Sunday.

He too continued serving up kosher meals from Aviv to keep that business ticking over. “We carried on with a week day takeaway menu, and have started a Shabbat delivery service, which has been very popular. That has grown into a bespoke delivery service for a minimum of two diners that will bring Friday night's meal or Shabbat lunch to your door. That’s one of the positives that has come from this experience. A silver lining borne out of necessity.”

They were unable to open their Chinese restaurant as too many staff could not get there. “We have had to furlough them, especially where they were travelling in from South London as it wasn't safe for them to get to work” says Urinov.

He too has put in place extensive measures to keep customers and staff safe. “Staff will be in visors and gloves and we’ll have a sign-in sheet to keep customer details for tracking.” There will also be automatic hand sanitiser stations as you enter the restaurant. “And lots of anti-bacterial spray being used — our usual high standards of hygiene!”

Both Urinov and Pell have had to reduce the number of tables in their restaurants.

“Aviv will take about half its capacity — reducing from 160 to 70/80 covers — but it’s a big site, which helps. Met Su Yan will be more affected, as we’ve had to take the number of seats down from 80 to 35/40, which will be the case until restrictions are eased” says Urinov, going on to explain that he will be able to accommodate up to two households at one table.

They are each frank about how tough this has been and continues to be in their industry.

“You do the best you can  with the situation” says Urinov. And it's clear that our kosher restaurants need us to support them if they are going to survive.

“We don't expect to make profits at the moment” says Pell. “This is about keeping going. It’s unlikely that on 50 to 60 percent capacity anyone can make a profit. It’s about staying in the game. But if the choice is financial hardship or death — which would you prefer?”


More info and delivery menus at: Kai Feng Met Su YanAviv

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