Some of the most inspiring stories we’ve seen over the last few weeks have shown the resilience of hospitality businesses even when faced with their greatest challenge. As they struggled to navigate the new territory, so many have changed their remit to provide services for those in need and in isolation.
The whole industry has shown great innovation during the crisis and demonstrated a strong desire to provide services to their communities, as well keeping team members engaged and purposeful. Kitchens have been reopened and regular delivery drops are the order of the day. We spoke to some of the companies who quickly realised their talents could be put to good use.
Rory Laffan, from hospitality recruitment specialists, Bee Recruitment admits to disbelief upon hearing the news of a nationwide lockdown. “I thought it was something that would never happen in my life,” he said. “I still can’t fully get my head around it.”
Rory and his wife Nancy didn’t want to sit idle. “I started to make pizzas with my kids, Frankie & Florence, and they enjoyed making and eating them so we thought we would offer them to our friends to see what they thought. They loved them so we started to take orders and now do deliveries for pizza making kits four days a week in an around Cambridge.”
Office catering providers, Fooditude have launched their Covid-19 Emergency Response; a group of volunteer chefs from their team are using their premises to cook delicious and nutritious packed meals for the most vulnerable and isolated people in their local community. “It was a joint decision with our leadership team,” said Cristina Covello, Head of Strategic Growth at Fooditude. “We had the resources, we had the links with the community, all we needed was some funding. But we knew if we just got started then momentum would build.”
As most of Fooditide’s staff were furloughed, they started a community kitchen utilising the skills of those still employed. “Our Head of Ops boxed meals and our MD delivered them,” Cristina explained. “Since then some of our furloughed staff have come back as volunteers. We’re only letting them come to the kitchen if they can walk, bike or drive, and of course aren’t living with anyone vulnerable.” Fooditude have a 20k square production kitchen and social distancing isn’t an issue.
Hospitality people are hardworking
Both initiatives continue to be extremely popular. “I think the reason the hospitality industry is so resilient is simply because of the people behind it,” Rory said. “They’re hardworking, used to challenges and are able to adapt.” Cristina agrees, “We’re entrepreneurial. 99% of hospitality businesses are SMEs. Entrepreneurs are flexible, resourceful and forward-thinking; they’re good at finding solutions instead of dwelling on problems.”
Rory’s new pizza kit delivery business, Fired Up are offering more delivery days. “We are offering more toppings too. It’s really given us massive satisfaction to see children waiting for the delivery at the window or the texts of thanks and gratitude we receive afterwards. I think it’s something people will want us to continue with,” he said. “I just thought about my own family and listened to other people about what they want and how they are feeling at the moment and making pizza and eating Pizza makes people happy!.”
Open Kitchens is a new, not for profit national food solution that brings together restaurants & their communities to fund, produce & deliver free meals to those in need. This impressive initiative was founded just 6 weeks ago by the team at Go dine & Go dine digital, as a response to the Covid 19 crisis.
The concept sees restaurants volunteer to open their kitchens and work for free to cook meals for those in need in their community to a budget of £1.85 per meal to cover costs, funded by community donations. Open Kitchens works with charities and organisations to get the meals to those in need in the community, including vulnerable children, homeless individuals and the elderly.
Adam Roberts, CEO & Founder explains:
“With a client-base made up almost exclusively of restaurants, we knew just how severe the impact of coronavirus was going to be within days of social distancing measures coming into play.”
“In searching for a point of reassurance for everyone involved, we came to realise that the facilities these restaurants already have in place offer huge potential for social good in a climate of isolation and food shortages.”
“We got the word out to as many organisations as we could think of in order to pool resources and the response from all angles so far has been phenomenal..”
Almost 100,000 meals have already been cooked and distributed, and as the project scales more kitchens are getting involved including those of renowned chef Adam Handling. To be part of the initiative go to www.openkitchens.co.uk and to donate visit https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/openkitchensuk
Go for it!
It goes without saying that nobody knows just how long lockdown will last but that doesn’t prevent companies from planning ahead. Cristina and the team at Fooditude are looking at establishing their project as a community organisation and seeking further funding. “We’d like to keep the project going even after we’re back to work as we know the need will still be there,” she said. And if you’re finding these initiatives inspirational, Cristina says just go for it! “I know it can seem hard to pick yourself up in the middle of a crisis but lots of people need to be fed and there are plenty of opportunities to help,” she said. “If you have the capabilities, the funding is out there. Getting in touch with your local Mutual Aid Group is a great place to start building links with the community.”
We want to hear from you
Are you and your colleagues involved in projects to help local people, are you making good use of your hospitality skills? If so, why not tell us about it. DM us via Twitter or LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you.
You can find out more about Fired Up by emailing ﬁreduppizza@hotmail.com and if you can help Fooditude reach even more people in need, you can contribute here.