'Why wait till May 17?' Restaurant boss asks to reopen early

Iain McCarten, Last Brasserie, Norwich

Iain McCarten and partner Bonnie at the Last Brasserie. Mr McCarten is calling on the government to spare restaurants a further wait to reopen until May 17. - Credit: Andy Newman Associates

The chef and owner at Norwich's Last Brasserie is calling on the government to put an end to the agonising 11 day wait to reopen.

Iain McCarten said the buzz of eating outdoors had now gone and diners were cancelling bookings, especially during the week, because of the bad weather.

Iain McCarten Last Brasserie Norwich

Iain McCarten welcomed outdoor dining but now the weather has worsened and people are cancelling, he is urging the government to bring forward the reopening date for inside. - Credit: Archant

Mr McCarten, who has worked almost single-handedly throughout the pandemic to provide a click-and-collect service, said outdoor dining did not pay the bills.

It comes as Boris Johnson is under pressure to bring forward the May 17 date when pubs, restaurants and hotels can open for indoor trade. 

Mr McCarten said: "I don't think we are even breaking even. We are only opening outside for the sake of being here, being alive as a restaurant. We need to open properly.

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"How is it that Primark is allowed to let a couple of thousand people through their doors and we aren't allowed to have anyone?

"I am absolutely exhausted, there has been no break for me, I have done the click and collect on my own and just given myself a nice pay cut. All I can do is hope for the future that the grass will be greener on the other side."

Andrew Jones, Hannah Springham, the Farmyard restaurant in Norwich

Andrew Jones and Hannah Springham, the Farmyard restaurant. - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

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Others were more philosophical. Hannah Springham, co-owner of the Dial House, Reepham and the Farmyard restaurant, Norwich, said they needed the time to get ready.

"To reopen is like starting a new business for the fourth time in a year and actually it gives us time to ease the team back in.

"Money-wise, we are desperate to open. We will be reopening on Wednesday May 19 because we are always shut on Mondays and Tuesdays and one thing the pandemic has shown us is that life and family must come first."

Phil Cutter, Murderers

Phil Cutter, the Murderers, pictured before the pandemic. - Credit: Archant

Phil Cutter, who runs the Murderers, Timber Hill, Norwich, agreed saying: "If the government said we could reopen tomorrow, it would take me about 10 days to get it straight so May 17 is about right.

"I've got a delivery of beer on Monday and Wednesday, that won't be ready until Friday and then there's only three days to go."

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