Kosher eateries in fight for survival

Many restaurants have been forced to move to delivery-only models in order to stay in business



Kosher restaurants are battling to survive amid the government’s coronavirus lockdown.

Daniel Urinov, the owner of Aviv in Edgware, said 80 per cent of his business relied on dining in.

“As a business, we have to do our best to adapt to the situation we are faced with. In this case, we started our own delivery service, and started doing meals for Shabbat,” Mr Urinov said. 

The take-away will operate alongside Aviv’s offerings on online delivery services such as Deliveroo.

“There’s no way it’s going to make up for the loss. There are two sides to it. We are still providing a service to our customers who aren’t getting out.  We’ve also got a responsibility to our staff,” he said, “so we are doing our best to keep them all employed.”

Aviv has taken on six drivers to deliver meals throughout the week, and Shabbat meals on Friday morning. They had seen a “better than expected” uptake, Mr Urinov said.

Delivery drivers are classed as “essential workers” by the government and people have been encouraged to order food where possible.  

Meanwhile, Carmelli’s bakery in Golders Green has been switching between “the shop being extra busy and one day empty”, according to new owner Yossi Moses. Business has declined by 50 per cent and he has been forced to lay off five of six employees on the catering side. 

He said he had to lay off “perhaps a third of my workforce. The catering side of the business is completely closed — there is only one employee left there, out of six before. People are panicking, nobody knows what we have,” he added.

Sales of “fancy things’” had collapsed, he said, as customers stock up on up basic products. “Birthday cake sales are down to almost zero.”  

Carmelli’s has also begun offering a home delivery service, offering free drop-offs to anybody who is self-isolating. 

On its first day of operation, delivery drivers made around 50 drops.

While Mr Moses is expecting a few lean months, Carmelli’s will still be baking bread when customers emerge from their coronavirus quarantine. “I always survive,” he said. “It’s just one of those things.”

Other well-known kosher restaurants such as Reubens, Soyo and Pizaza are also operating on a delivery-only model.

“In Pizoyo we have in-house deliveries all round Borehamwood and Shenley, Radlett and Stanmore,” said Nira Workman of SGroup, which owns the restaurants.

"Reubens will be preparing Friday dinner Shabbats as packages and when needed will have delivery as well,” she said.

Delivery, however, has not proved a viable option for all kosher eateries.  

Aron Brickman, the owner of Bricky’s in Borehamwood, said: “Unfortunately I had to close the restaurant as delivering with Just Eat and Deliveroo was not viable because of the fees they charge.

“It is a very worrying time,” he continued, “no one knows how long this will go on for. 

“I will be looking to the government for help so I can take care of my staff.”

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