Chef Alex Rushmer has said he won’t be reopening on July 4, despite Boris Johnson announcing restaurants will be allowed to.
In a blog post, Rushmer said he and his business partner Lawrence Butler said relaunching would be too much of a gamble due to the uncertainties around the industry amid Covid-19.
Rushmer and Butler are behind the plant-based restaurant Vanderlyle in Cambridge, which opened in 2019 and has switched to a takeaway model since being forced to close in March.
“I understand this eagerness and excitement, it’s impossible not to. And I make no judgements on those who choose to open at the earliest possible opportunity,” said Rushmer.
“But our own approach is going to be more cautious. Vanderlyle will not be open for business as usual at the start of July. Currently, I don’t know what the odds are of us being open again before the start of next year.
“A lack of clinical decision making at the start of the crisis gives me little confidence that the government will successfully negotiate our exit from it. Lockdown easing in places as diverse as Florida, Germany and Beijing have all resulted in infection spikes and increases in R rates.
“Covid isn’t going away. With no guidance about how to reopen safely and no support network if lockdown measures need to be ratcheted up again, reopening a small independent restaurant becomes a gamble I cannot make.”
He added: “I want to cook and put your food on a plate instead of in a box. I want to pour you a glass of wine and tell you why it will pair so well with the main course. I want to make sure that for the two or three hours you are in our restaurant you feel cosseted, safe and embraced by our interpretation of hospitality.
“Can all this be done from behind perspex screens, gloved and masked and incessantly worried about finances or whether or not the restaurant will have to close for two weeks because of a single phone call? For now – for me – the answer is no, it can’t.”