COVID stories

Tom Kitchin

Interviewed in June 2020

Tom Kitchin

We haven't had our restaurants open at all during lockdown. It is a really challenging time, we employ a lot of people and we don’t know if we can save those jobs. It’s a lot of pressure, a big burden.

We’ve furloughed 260 staff, we have 5 hospitality establishments and no income.

The whole of hospitality has been closed for 12 weeks and the debt keeps mounting. Even with furlough, there are still debts to pay. Every business says this, but it really is true, our staff are like family. We started 13 years ago and some of the original team are still with us.

Then there’s the suppliers. They’re such an integral part of our business, they’re our friends. It’s been devastating. And customers – we’ve built the whole business around regulars, people from across Scotland who dine with us, they’re friends, people we care for and we’ve known for years. They’ve been on the journey with us, we miss them. During the Edinburgh Festival we have customers who come every year from around the world, We’ve got customers who have travelled the world to come and eat with us too, most humbling thing in the world. We look forward to seeing these people every August, from San Francisco, from Australia, from South Africa.

There’s always two sides, and we have to make positive out of bad news – we’re very lucky and we live in a nice house. We’ve four children so it’s very busy and I have a new found respect for teachers. It’s really something.

But I’ve always been working, home two nights a week, to spend time like this has been so beautiful, but there’s still a horrible lingering feeling of what’s going to happen to our businesses, to many other businesses and most importantly to our people.

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