It’s been a long four months since we once again closed our restaurants’ doors and headed into another lockdown. We’ve spent over a year navigating the fears and tears, hopes raised then lowered, a hospitality industry battered and bruised in the storm of a global pandemic. We have had a rare moment in time to reimagine our guest experience, to rewrite menus and do some excellent wine tasting and bread making! I feel a deep appreciation like never before for the loyalty, for the passion in our industry across our whole team. We will come out of this stronger, braver and kinder.
In early February we received confirmation the next wave of restrictions could be lifted on April 12 and I challenged the teams to get creative. We spoke to our landlords and councils to devise how we could create warm and welcoming outdoor spaces wherever possible. Grosvenor Estates were quick to agree to a beautiful new terrace at Pétrus. We are hoping for spring sunshine but prepared for unpredictable British weather and invested in heaters, wind breakers, blankets and umbrellas. It’s a true Michelin experience and will be a permanent edition. The phone lines opened on February 24 and our call centre received 800 enquiries that day. We have 10,000 covers booked for the first week back and amazingly this level of reservations continues for the next six weeks, when indoor dining is due to open on May 17.
Monday is finally here. I’m up early, buzzing with nervous energy. The vaccine roll-out across the UK has been phenomenal. As I jump in the car, I hear on the radio that over 30 million of us have received at least our first dose and the scientific evidence shows the monumental effort is working. It feels like today will be a good day! First stop is the impressive Battersea Power Station, a new location for our fourth Street Pizza. Pizza for breakfast? Absolutely! We are fully booked for the week ahead and we discuss how to accommodate walk-ins. We are new to this community and we want the experience to be welcoming and accessible. It’s just a few hours to opening and the team is excited to get going. Next stop, Heddon Street Kitchen — always a Ramsay family favourite. Driving up Regent Street, London is buzzing in the sunshine, people are happy, there is an air of relief and optimism. The terrace is filled with guests and it’s like greeting old friends as I stop to say hello.
On the drive home, I check in with the other teams. Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and The Savoy are getting ready for opening in May, London House in Battersea Square is hosting its first wedding in the beautiful secret garden on Saturday and our first Street Burger outside London opens in a few days in Woking. Everyone is doing an amazing job, I’m so proud of them all. My phone rings and it’s Tana saying the kids want pizza for dinner, so I head back to Battersea to meet the family.
From fine dining on the terrace of Pétrus to opening three new restaurants, this week has been amazing! We are excited to be back doing what we love and even more importantly, to help our guests experience the pure joy of breaking bread with friends, family and those loved ones we all have truly missed over the months apart.