More restaurant groups are expected to announce closures and significant lay-offs over the next few days following the Government’s advice for people to stay away from pubs and restaurants in an effort to contain the virus.
Smaller groups to have announced closures include Kricket, Hoppers and the coffee-focused Grind.
Hawksmoor announced last night (17 March) that its nine UK restaurants had closed their doors in “the interest of public health”.
As a result the hugely successful steak group - which is an industry leader when it comes to recruitment and a constant presence on The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list - has had to lay off a significant proportion of its staff.
In a post on its website, Hawksmoor founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott said the situation was “tragic” but they had made the call to ensure the group survives and to protect the jobs of the hundreds of staff that will continue to be employed while the restaurants are closed.
“We have tried to treat those people as fairly as possible, paying full notice and we are trying to give them every guidance on how they can get extra support during these difficult times,” reads part of the post.
“We have also told them that what has happened today doesn’t prevent them in any way from being part of the company again in the future and we will stay in touch with them to offer any support and information we can.”
D&D London closed all of its 24 sites - which include Sartoria and German Gymnasium and 20 Stories in Manchester - last night.
“We fully understand the need to play our part in defeating the spread of Coronavirus and the safety of our staff and customers is of course of paramount importance. And we have had to similarly close our restaurants in New York and Paris,” said chairman and CEO Des Gunewardena.
“Nevertheless it is a desperately sad day for us and for other UK restaurants who also face closure. Our number one priority now is to work closely with government bodies to ensure that the welfare of our staff and their families is managed through this period of uncertainty. We hope the government steps up to the challenge.”
Highly respected restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King also announced they would be closing their seven restaurants - which include The Wolseley and Brasserie Zédel - last night.
“Under the circumstances, this move was inevitable. Our priority now is to look after our staff and ensure that we remain in the best possible shape, ready to re-open as soon as is possible,” the pair said in a tweet.
The company says it will continue to pay its staff for the foreseeable future and that it was working closely with its landlords and other stakeholders to protect both the staff and the company.
Further up the country, fast-expanding Indian casual dining group Mowgli has closed its 10-strong estate. Founder Nisha Katona marked her restaurants last few days of service by giving free food to anyone with an NHS ID card.
"As we mothball our beloved Mowgli, myself and my senior management team will now work without sleeping on the way in which we can honour our teams over the next months," she wrote in an Instagram post. "I believe when the world emerges from this forced restructuring of life, any new dawn will have a place for Mowgli."
"It is because of the loyalty support and encouragement of you our dear dear Mowglites, that we have a chance of hibernating but keeping our little corner of the economy alive and able to re-germinate on any new horizon. For that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. See you on the other side."