Tom Kitchin talks openly about hospitality's toughest year and the pain of letting staff go
Chef-restaurateur Tom Kitchin has spoken out about the effects of Covid on his business, with staff numbers reduced from 240 to 140, and being in discussion with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about the crisis facing hospitality in Scotland.
“I had to make 100 people redundant within my company,” says Kitchin. “A hundred people, phoning them up personally and telling them... having them crying down the phone. That’s the worst thing I’ve ever had to do in business. Absolutely.”
Kitchin and his Michaela run The Kitchin fine dining restaurant in Leith, Scran and Scallie gastropub in Stockbridge, Southside Scran bistro in Bruntsfield, all Edinburgh, and The Bonnie Badger hotel with pub, restaurant, rooms and garden in Gullane, East Lothian.
Kitchin has been a vocal champion of the hospitality industry throughout the pandemic and this week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called him to speak about the crisis facing the industry in Scotland.
“It was a really meaningful conversation,” Kitchin tweeted, “and I hope it leads to changes required saving (sic) jobs and businesses while keeping the public safe.”
Among the casualties of what has been a disastrous year for Scotland’s hospitality industry are The Kitchin’s sister restaurant, Dominic Jack’s Castle Terrace, which closed permanently in June and Southside Scran, which is currently mothballed. The Kitchin is sit-in only until 6pm, while the Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning Scran and Scallie is serving until 6pm and doing online orders and deliveries, as is The Bonnie Badger.
In an interview in today’s Scotsman Magazine Kitchin argues for changes in the current measures in order to keep restaurants, and the wider hospitality industry, alive.
“Even if you’re only allowed to come with your own household but could have alcohol, that would help. If we’re NOT allowed alcohol, why can’t we stay open till 11 pm to generate business from the evening trade? “I’m not being political, I’m only saying we understand we need to work within the restrictions to curb this virus, but we also need to keep the economy moving a little bit please, please, please, because Scotland
has come so, so far.”
Read Tom Kitchin’s full interview with Janet Christie in the Scotsman Magazine and for his Mallard En Croute recipe see our Christmas Recipe Card Series.