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A little voice of support

A little voice of support | Contini

A little bundle of light relief.

We are on Level 3 repeat in Edinburgh this week, again. It’s going to be very hard if not impossible, for the 11 councils in the west of Scotland to be forced into Level 4 restrictions, all with the promise of a Christmas of sorts. My heart goes out to all these businesses and their community. We’re waiting patiently for the Scottish Government to share the additional support package that will be available for anyone that has been forced to close. This will be critical for so many. The current £3000 a month grant for forced closure doesn’t even pay the gas bills for many.

When I write these updates I’m trying to capture the emotion that all hospitality and it’s supplier support network is experiencing. I am trying to be a little voice of support in a very noisy room. Please know Victor and I so appreciate and value all the support you give us and our team. I love hearing all your thoughts. We feel very blessed.

It’s sometimes hard to understand how other businesses function. I would have no idea how a virtual IT company works for example. Hospitality is trying to sell fun, happy times, a bit of escape or a treat from the norm and delicious food and drink of course. We’re selling a bit of our family and you are all part of it. Pulling this experience together both front of house and back of house often cost £100,000’s and can take years to pay back this investment. The market is highly competitive and investment needs over recent years have been higher than ever. On top of this investment are all the other fixed costs that can’t just be turned off. The shock the sector has been presented with has many businesses balancing a house of cards. The coffers for many have been close to emptied but viable businesses, before Covid, will be viable businesses when the rules are relaxed and businesses can trade again. This is the position we want the government to support. Help us get back to being able to contribute when the time comes! And contribute to the economy, keep jobs as well as sharing happy times for the community.

Even the little glimpse of normal in September was proof for most that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Edinburgh for years had more restaurants per capita than London. You almost have to be crazy to want to run one. The chain restaurants have changed the game but the independents have been shaping the rules. Competition is good. The quality of service and food experience have only improved over the years. More focus on training our teams, on celebrating Scotland’s larder and a focus on sustainability has been a win for employment, the environment and importantly the consumer. There have been many pressures. Upward only rent reviews, rates revaluations, increase in food costs, wage increases, etc but like every market there are opportunities and good operators have been able to operate in good faith with good results.

Short term shocks are always inevitable. It’s the length of this shock and more importantly the inconsistency of the restrictions that has made this so very hard.

This week I’m saying we’ve done our best and we can’t do anything more. Choose to panic or choose to take a bit of time?

I’m moving from hope to faith. When I look back, faith tells me we will always find a solution.

One thing we have all lost due to Covid is time. Time shared with family, friends and new adventures. Time we need to make good decisions. Time lost can’t be found.

The business problems and Covid challenges aside, there is part of the journey that has served me well. The less I can control has made me more relaxed or simply resolved. This has opened my mind to different choices.

Working more closely than ever with the team has made me and I think the team more aware of the journey we both have to travel. This has served us all well.

Victor and I have also spent more time together. You may find that hard to believe but when we have three restaurants up and running we can sometimes go days with nothing more than a ciao! The less time we are together the more we argue. Covid time feels a little like puppy love.

We travel together to work, sometimes share a shift together in one of the venues as you know, then home together, deliveries enroute. It’s not candles and roses romantic, but it’s shared and it’s giving us one of the things I’ve always craved, time! The result is the business challenges are counterbalanced with a lot more laughs. Victor can make me cry and laugh at the same time. I’m rubbish at staying mad for very long. What do they say, yes, you’ve got to laugh!

So that man of mine has taken advantage of me, he’s ambushed me when all my defences are down. Who can say no to Victor? He says yes to everyone.

For years we’ve been on various puppy lists, I am not an animal in my house lover FYI, and certainly not in my kitchen. As you can guess, and knowing Victor, these lists have largely been in Italy with friends from Piemonte to Tuscany hoping to send him a rare breed, Lagotto Romagnolo. Yes, a truffle hunter. I heard you; trust Victor to want a designer dog that finds truffles. I can also hear you say, a few lines later, “I knew it, she’s lost it!” I admit I have lost it. The repeat has worn me out and I’ve just given in on this one four legged friend.

The children have had a dog on their Christmas list for years and I’ve been the cruel one (as usual) always coming up with the practical solutions for them to agree between them that it was not a great choice. My plan has worked, until now.

Well, wait for it. Meet Rocco.

Our cocker spaniel from 2 miles along the road in Dalkeith! The new housemate at Casa Contini and the new member of the family. One of 7 puppies, used to a large family and the reason we love him is he’s a wee fighter. We thought he’d fit in well.

Covid vaccines will follow throughout 2021, or potentially earlier, so I have faith that we will find a way out of this. For the family I’m stopping the repeat button. Rocco is a little bundle of trouble to get Victor up, out and walking earlier than our new normal. The children are ecstatic. We have two back at home so their time will be spent puppy sitting. I’m given in and I’m not letting any more time pass on this subject. 17 years worth of fights, I’ve happily lost.

I’m seeing this as a little light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.

If you needed proof that I’m crazy I think you’ve found it!

Keep well and keep safe


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