Brighton restaurants continue to adapt to pandemic challenges

Posted On 03 Jun 2020 at 4:42 pm

Fayaz and his team preparing takeaways at Kitgum


Restaurants in Brighton and Hove are continuing to adapt to lockdown challenges by applying to sell alcohol alongside takeaways.

Brighton and Hove City Council has received a clutch of applications from eateries in the city asking for variations to their licenses.

Kitgum Kitchen in Preston Road, Brighton, Giggling Squid in Church Road, Hove, The Paradiso in Preston Road, Molly’s Coffee Shop on the Rottingdean Undercliff and the Dyke Alehouse in Dyke Road all want to start selling takeaway booze, or extend the hours they already can.

Kitgum, which only opened its first permanent restaurant in February after years of running pop-up kitchens, found itself having to completely rethink its business model.

Its applying for permission to deliver alcohol alongside its booming new takeaway business, as well as selling booze to customers when they come to pick up meals.

Fayaz Amlani, who runs the restaurant alongside his wife Susie, said: “At the start of lockdown we were motivated and focused on surviving short term but it is becoming increasingly apparent that its not about just surviving anymore, this is longterm and our ‘new normal’.

“A couple of weeks ago we took the decision to remove tables and chairs from the restaurant (which are now stowed away in our living room) to allow more space to prep for our new Kitgum@home business. We really needed the space, but equally it was a bit gutting; we put in a lot of hard work into getting where we are, and it feels like we’re starting a whole new business from scratch.

“Obviously, we normally keep positive, we appreciate that we are extremely lucky to be able to continue to keep our business alive. We have been talking about big decisions going forwards, we are doubtful that we can reopen the restaurant this year as our place is just too small for social distancing measures to work.

“But it’s not doom and gloom. We are launching our website this week, www.kitgumkitchen.com, which is effectively a webshop and we have some cool and exciting ideas to come. We are hopeful that we can grow our customer base, extend our Kitgum product range by way of sauces and pickles and feature guest partners through our webshop.

“The end goal for us is to not survive but thrive in this time with a view to reopening our restaurant in the best possible position.”

The Dyke Alehouse in Dyke Road was also only open for a brief time before lockdown hit, and is now applying to extend its off licence until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

But owner Will Farmer said that selling takeaway ales was only bringing in about a tenth of its pre-pandemic income.

He said: “We had off sales on our licence anyway and when we had been closed for about three weeks I started to do a takeaway on ales and stuff you can’t get from an off licence.

“It proved quite popular – but now that more people are back at work, and maybe hoping that pubs are going to open quite soon, they are saving their money.

“But we still don’t know what the restrictions are going to be. It’s getting quite tight now to when we are apparently going to open. Whether it’s 1m or 2m, it’s going to cause a big effect and for some places it might not be worth opening the doors.

“And if it’s limited in the pub, we will have to find some other revenue to offset the losses.

“The hospitality sector has been the first to close and the last to open without any special support. I think real problems are going to start in six to 12 months, when money will start being tight.”

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