NEW HAVEN – For the first time since March 2020, live music came to the Toad’s Place stage on Friday.
The famous music club, with help from the federal government, is preparing to reopen after more than a year of pandemic shutdown.
DOVER – When Dover Brickhouse owner Chris Serrecchia began to experience personnel issues, he began to think of creative solutions. After losing most of his kitchen staff, he explored options like renting part of the restaurant and the kitchen to a smaller restaurant, but decided that was not the solution.
Serrecchia’s retention and recruitment challenges are not unique, as many other local and national restaurateurs have struggled to hire. It is even more difficult to compete with seasonal wages without passing the cost on to customers.
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“Help has become really hard to find and we are paying a lot of money just to be open,” Serrecchia said. “It is no longer financially viable to continue like this. I’ve been in our building for 17 years now, and have owned the business for 14 years, and I think it’s time for a change, refresh it and think outside the box.
So he forged a partnership with Mark Segal, owner of Gravy in Somersworth, as a solution to getting more help in the kitchen. Segal was already interested in a slow expansion of Gravy’s operations, but not quite ready to embark on a new lease and a new location. Naturally, the partnership was perfect, he said.
Segal and some of his team will be working in the kitchen at the Dover Brickhouse Wednesday through Sunday, starting June 23.
“I saw that he had lost almost his entire kitchen team and as a restaurant owner I felt bad for him,” Segal said. “I reached out, thinking there was really nothing I could do but sympathize a little and see if I could get him help. I was honored that he gave me an opportunity to work together.
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Segal calls the partnership “Brickhouse up front, sauce back”, but it’s actually an infusion of favorites from their two menus from those days. While the menu is still being finalized, customers can expect Brickhouse staples like wings, in addition to the lighter, more customizable options that Gravy serves.
How will Segal manage the two spots with the same workforce? He says he lucked out with the hiring and is grateful to have Renee Dockham, a staff member, as an anchor to maintain Gravy’s Fort.
“She’s just incredibly talented and wonderful on both sides of the house, so she’s very comfortable running all the food in gravy,” Segal said. “Plus, working just a few days at Brickhouse gives me a window to bounce back in between.”
The Dover Brickhouse hosted a pop-up Wednesday night, on a trial basis to help staff get started next weekend.
“I wanted to find someone like Mark – someone who is a seasoned chef, someone who loves and is good at what they do,” Serrecchia said. “It makes sense for me to reduce my profits a bit so that I can deliver a good product with someone who is reliable and who wants to be there. I think we can both benefit from the relationship.
Gravy is a young restaurant that opened in early 2020 in the heart of downtown Somersworth in the old 1886 railway station, weeks before the coronavirus pandemic closures began.
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But Segal was no stranger to catering, having worked as an executive chef at Portsmouth restaurants such as Pesce Blue and the One Hundred Club after working for award-winning chefs in California.
Serrecchia said he had ties to the old train station, when station 319 occupied the lower space of the building. This is where Serrecchia began his career, taking his first jobs in the restaurant business, so he sees the new partnership loop.
Segal said it was a great opportunity for Gravy to enter the Dover market, while also partnering with a well-established restaurant like the Dover Brickhouse. Segal jokes that the ‘Gravy Train’ is now heading for Dover, but claims his location in Somersworth is not going anywhere.
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“I’m a resident of Dover and my business is in Somersworth, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds for me,” Segal said. “Somersworth will be there for the long haul. I really love the community there and I love being a part of it. It’s an opportunity to have an extra side to maintain growth.
Speaking of this growth, Segal recently purchased a 23-passenger bus which it hopes to convert into a food and beverage truck in the future when local events intensify later this year.
Colossal rent debts weigh heavily on the hotel industry’s neck. If the situation is not resolved, there could be far-reaching implications for future generations in the bar world, writes Amy Hopkins.
* This feature was originally published in the June 2021 issue of Spirits trade. On June 16, 2021, the UK government announced a further nine-month extension of protection against commercial evictions
The devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic on the hospitality sector is confirmed by data from the UK Hospitality trade body: in a terrible year, 660,000 jobs were lost, sales of 86 billion pounds sterling (US $ 122.3 billion) have disappeared, and at least 12,000 companies have gone out of business for good.
One figure that continues to rise is the collective rent debt accumulated by the sector since the first nationwide foreclosure in March 2020. Currently, the debt stands at £ 2.5 billion, according to UK Hospitality, whose recent survey from members revealed that more than half are unable to pay their arrears.
At the start of the foreclosure, the UK government announced a moratorium on lapsing of leases to prevent landlords from evicting commercial tenants for non-payment of rent. The moratorium has been extended several times and is due to end on June 30, 2021.
Meanwhile, tenants and owners have been on their own when it comes to refunds. However, a large number of discussions ended in deadlock, with UK Hospitality estimating that 40% of business owners were unable to agree on a rental grant with their landlords.
“Some owners have taken a collaborative and supportive approach, but we have also seen a significant number of owners reject this approach and be tough and aggressive. Now is the time to fix this problem, ”said Kate Nicholls, CEO of UK Hospitality.
As such, the group is calling for “sustained and targeted intervention” by the UK government to help both sides reach a deal. “To date, the government’s strategy – to introduce and repeatedly expand a ban on coercive measures – has just advanced the problem,” adds Nicholls. UK Hospitality and other voices have warned that a ‘bloodbath’ of closures would be inevitable if the crisis is not resolved, putting 330,000 more jobs at risk.
Following the government’s call for evidence on commercial rent debts, UK Hospitality has submitted a number of proposals to protect the industry, all based on the premise that the financial burden caused by the pandemic should be equitably borne by owners and tenants.
More precisely, the group wishes to see: the existing protections extended and extended; at least 50% of the rent debts accumulated during amortized business closings, and at least 25% amortized for periods when businesses were operating under Covid-19 restrictions; and for owners and tenants to agree on reasonable repayment terms.
WAIT ON THE HOOKS
It is not yet clear whether lawmakers will heed the advice. In the meantime, business leaders are waiting on hot coals. The prospect of paying such high costs while continuing to operate under government-imposed restrictions has left many in a state of anxiety, frustration and disbelief. For some, any positive action will be too little, too late.
“I lost my whole business,” says Jonathan Downey, who opened London-based cocktail institution Milk & Honey almost two decades ago. In a heartbreaking move that reverberated throughout the industry, Downey closed the prestigious Soho bar last September after 18 years of operation. It has also closed its street restaurants Giant Robot, Dinerama, and Hawker House for good, while its Model Market business will remain afloat until the end of September.
“By then, I would have lost everything I have ever built in the hospitality industry,” says Downey, who blames rent debt for every shutdown, calling it “the biggest problem” the industry is facing. confronted.
Over the course of two decades, Downey has paid almost £ 4million (US $ 5.7million) in rent to the owner of Milk & Honey, “but they wouldn’t accept a pound of arrears being written off. ; nothing, ”he said.
Over the past year, Downey has transformed what started out as a WhatsApp group into a lobbying organization called Hospitality Union. Through this, he launched the #NationalTimeOut campaign, which calls on the government to legislate for a national rotating rent system, that is, zero rent for periods without rotation during the pandemic. “[The government needs] an extraordinary response to extraordinary circumstances, ”says Downey. “They have to be imaginative and creative, and they just didn’t do anything … and what they did, they did wrong.”
Downey believes that if homeowners aren’t forced by law to agree to significantly reduced terms, “they’re never going to make deals.” Thanks to Hospitality Union, Downey has heard many stories of callous behavior from owners, and even threats of violence. He hopes the new organization will provide a platform for small business owners who often lack the bargaining power and resources to join forces and influence positive change.
Peter Thornton, chief financial officer of London concert hall The Piano Works, calls on the UK government to adopt Australia’s rent relief model, which operates on a proportionality basis.
Similar to Downey’s rent-to-revenue proposal, this would mean that rent relief would be commensurate with the tenant’s reduction in business, with rent waivers accounting for at least 50% of the total rent reduction.
“Many business ventures are opening in an uncertain environment, which could prove difficult for cash flow, while also facing pressure from potential landlord action to pay off rent arrears,” says Thornton. “We are not asking for additional support from the government, but we are asking for a fair and binding solution to the rent problem that ensures that landlords and tenants work together … and share the burden of the pandemic, in which case the Australia’s rent relief model would be a strong and viable solution.
Meanwhile, in the United States, mass rent debt is also a constant concern for hospitality venues, and businesses must contend with a fragmented state-by-state approach.
“Rent debt, and the threat thereof, has forced the closure of thousands of bars, many of which are icons in their own communities,” said Aaron Gregory Smith, executive director of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.
Smith adds that while many states have anti-eviction orders for residential tenants, the same has not been true for business premises. As such, “many bars have had to find creative ways to make money to cover their rent obligation throughout the pandemic.”
It quickly becomes evident that the rent crisis is having an even deeper impact on the industry; Now that restrictions are easing in the US, UK and other markets, Smith notes that many companies face staff shortages after laying off or taking employees off to cover the costs of rent. “If rent relief had been an option, it’s entirely possible that everyone is now working with the best levels of staff,” he says.
Downey notes that in the future the industry could suffer from a lack of investment if potential business owners view hospitality venues as “risky” assets that “could be shut down at any time, without fail. of [their] clean. “In addition, rent debts and other challenges stemming from the pandemic have” deterred many people from working in the industry. [because] these jobs are not as secure as we once thought ”.
In the long run, Smith believes the current crisis could lead to a more equitable relationship between landlords and commercial tenants. “We hope that in the future, whether or not the rent debt problem is easily resolved, landlords will become much more empathetic partners with the businesses they rent.”
Party goers can enjoy an elegant retro dinner before dancing the night away when one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most popular nightclubs finally reopens.
But for now, Gossip in Hanley is operating like an ad after the government shelved plans to completely lift restrictions on coronaviruses for four weeks.
Carl Gratty, who took over the Hope Street nightclub with her husband Dominic in December 2016, says the venue has undergone a number of improvements during the pandemic.
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An area once used as a way to move from one part of the LGBT + venue to another has been transformed into a 1950s-themed diner.
Meanwhile, the beer garden has also been renovated to give it a tropical feel.
Carl admits it will be a big party when the place can function as a nightclub again – and says the government’s decision to delay “Freedom Day” has been “extremely disappointing.”
He said: “So many clubs have just died and it is a real shame.
“You still have your licenses to pay and the maintenance of the building. Then there is the rent.
“We received government grants, but it cost us a fortune to stay closed. We have used that time wisely and with the little money we have, we have done renovations. We have made about 25 £ 000 of improvements. “
Before the first lockdown, Carl was on the verge of throwing a Gossip at Southend – but luckily he hadn’t made a deal.
However, the Hanley Gossip continues to open seven nights a week as a ‘party pub’, offering booth packages, food, drink and quiz nights.
He said: “We had to become a late night pub rather than a late night party place.
“We have a lot of tables and people can place their orders with an app.
“We have 50% less capacity due to guidelines and life safety – and you need a lot of staff to do that.
“It was a nightmare and it made me intoxicated!”
Carl says the team can’t wait to be a full nightclub again so clubbers can see the improvements.
He added: “The new restaurant was previously just an access hall and was a waste of space. After being in a 1950s themed restaurant in America, I thought it would be great. to have something like that here.
“We had built the beer garden at the end of 2019, then we couldn’t use it properly until now and people liked it.”
For Carl and the rest of the Gossip team, the challenge of Covid has been grueling.
He added, “I felt like the biggest Grinch in the world, telling people to sit down and remind them of face covers!
“When this is all over, I’ll make sure I have an evening of rest and can just walk around with a beer talking to people. It will be amazing when we can turn up that sound system.
“There have been generations who have missed out on going out to clubs and being able to sing, dance and build their confidence. Our goal has always been to be a safe club where everyone from all walks of life is welcome. people need the interaction. “
A man and woman face mischief charges after an alleged racist incident at a Richmond cafe in March.
Part of the incident, which occurred on March 29 at Rocanini Coffee Roasters in Richmond, was captured on security video.
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According to the cafe manager, the couple were seated at a table and chairs in an area where they were not allowed.
When she asked them to move, the situation worsened – with the man pouring coffee on the floor and the woman pouring coffee on the manager, she said.
The couple then reportedly hurled anti-Asian slurs at the manager as they left.
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A video shared with Global News appears to show a man pouring a drink on the cafe floor and a woman tossing a partially empty mug at an employee.
A cell phone video recorded by the manager outside the cafe shows a man saying “F—– Chinese” as he gets into his car to leave.
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Richmond RCMP said Astrid Maria Secreve and Michel Jean-Jacque Berthaume now each face one charge of mischief.
The RCMP are asking anyone who has experienced or witnessed a hate incident to call 911 if the incident is still ongoing, or their local non-emergency police line if it is not.
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