So many of you have been asking how we are doing during these unpredictable times. It feels good to know there is genuine concern for our well-being. But as the goal posts keep on changing at the blink of an eye, it's a tricky question to answer.
From a business perspective, restaurants cannot possibly operate viably when a third of their tables have to be removed. Add into the challenge-mix contradictory announcements of "all is well, dine out" swiftly followed by "stay home, don't mix" , it's of no surprise that the fear barometer is sent into chaotic peaks and troughs, which has a similar impact on our business.
Nothing is steady, predictable or manageable. Previously we could base our staffing & purchasing requirements on a blend of last years sales and the weather (cloudy, with a bit of a chill in the air is good for French Living. Extremes of heatwave and snow are not so good!) But now, nothing prepares us for an injection of fear that will suddenly leave the restaurant feeling very empty, followed by an enticing & rare something -for -nothing offer that miraculously fills the place. Although, the stark reality hits home when you see the tables stacked in the store cupboard and you remember that we're not actually full.
And yet we are grateful every day to still be here, serving the same French menu with no changes, no cutting corners, no restrictions to our fresh, seasonal offering. I love to hear Stephane recount the wonderful tales and stories from customers, both the new and the old, after a days service. His face lights up at the realisation that he now has the time to truly listen and share these moments with our guests, even when we are "full"! The beauty of having less tables is the extra time & space we have been given, so we can relax into the service. A full restaurant with a third less tables feels much easier to handle.
The only other sad downside to less tables means a squeezing of staff costs. Our full-time staff jobs are secure but we have had to tighten our belts with our casual service staff. We are all longing to be able to re-introduce those stored tables into the restaurant again so our amazing casual helpers can all come back soon.
Meanwhile, French Living is extremely thankful to all our loyal wonderful customers for supporting us, dining with us and sharing your stories and smiles. Thank you.