UK restaurants find new recipes for success amid virus

London (AFP) –


Facing wipeout from the coronavirus outbreak, many British cafes, bars and restaurants have reinvented themselves as delivery services and mobile greengrocers to survive.

"Love Shack", a vegan restaurant in Hackney, east London, explained on its website that "in these tough times we need to look at new ways of keeping the good ship love afloat".

Rather than let its stock go to waste, the restaurant now delivers ingredients to local homes.

"Former restaurant, now accidental greengrocers," quips its Instagram page.

"We've somehow turned into vegan grocers and food delivery service."

For community food market Mercato Metropolitano, the reinvention "was an inevitable business change", spokeswoman Nezahat Sevim told AFP.

Before the outbreak, diners would buy their meals from one of its food vans and eat it at large communal tables.

Now they deliver to members of their "loyal community" but also to new customers, "since the essentials have become harder to find, in shops and also online".

"If the supermarkets can't do it we can!" says Nonna Tonda's Instagram page. "We are delivering our fresh pasta and sauces to your door."

The Italian restaurant in West London now delivers fresh pasta across the city, a highly prized delicacy often missing from supermarket shelves since the virus took hold.

What started out as isolated initiatives quickly became widespread, with an Instagram account opening this weekend under the name "Shop local London".

The site lists projects cooked up by businesses across the catering sector, from food vans to wholesalers -- many of whom have lost their main customers since the restaurants closed.

Natoora, which supplies 30,000 restaurants, has now opened up to the public, its employees packing crates of basic necessities for delivery direct to the doors of Londoners.

The company has been able to maintain "90-95 percent" of its usual revenue, founder Franco Fubini told AFP, but not without a few adjustments.

"We don't sell a lot of artichokes to consumers, but we'd sell a lot to restaurants," he explained.

"Consumers are buying a lot more avocados than restaurants would."