One of Britain’s most famous chefs, cookbook authors, and restaurant owners, Yotam Ottolenghi has announced that his two flagship London restaurants — Nopi in Soho and Rovi in Fitzrovia — have closed as a result of the developing and devastating impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the capital.
Ottolenghi also confirmed that two of his eponymous deli-cafes — in Islington and Spitalfields — would terminate dinner services. On Instagram, the chef wrote: “Like so many colleagues, I am also, unfortunately, a conveyor of sad news and I find this absolutely devastating.”
He said that they hoped to be open again within weeks but that “there is nothing predictable about this virus and we will just have to ride this out and see what each day brings with it.”
And like so many others, he expressed bewilderment as well as sadness: “As I have written to all our staff this morning, our world has changed so much in such a short time that it is hard to recognise it as ours anymore. I find it exasperatingly difficult to understand how, within a few weeks, a buzzy, vibrant, creative environment has simply vanished.”
Regarding staff, for whom so much remains unknown and precarious, he said they were “trying to help and support as much as we can” and that work had begun on expanding the fresh food range at the Ottolenghi delis (Notting Hill, Belgravia, Islington and Spitalfields) as well as on the introduction of a delivery service. “Any amount of business will help us keep running until we get to the other side of this,” he wrote. “Keep well everyone and let’s hope for better times.”
And in further news...
- Deliveroo launched a hardship fund for workers affected by COVID-19, but many say it is impossible to access. [Sky News]
- Punk sanitising brewery Brewdog has done something actually good by making free “Punk Sanitiser” available. [Guardian]
- The meat industry is concerned that low statutory sick pay will see infected workers coming to work, later causing huge supply chain disruption. [Food Manufacturing]
- Ocado has suspended online supermarket shopping. [BBC]
- The Co-op has launched an appeal to recruit for over 5,000 new roles “to help feed the nation.” “We’re committed to supporting communities during this difficult time.” The supermarket said it was simplifying the recruitment process so successful candidates can start work within days. Temp roles can apply in store; permanent must apply online. [Co-op]