United we stand

Yard Sale's Johnnie Tate: "The focus isn’t on making money, it’s on survival”

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Podcast: Yard Sale Pizza co-founder Johnnie Tate on maintaining a delivery business during Coronavirus crisis

Related tags Pizza delivery London Restaurant Coronavirus UnitedWeStand

Yard Sale Pizza co-founder Johnnie Tate has described the first few weeks after the Coronavirus lockdown was announced as an “extremely hectic period” for the business.

Speaking on BigHospitality’s ​latest UnitedWeStand podcast, Tate says the focus was initially on making sure all sites were following all the latest health and safety guidelines, and having plenty of communication with the teams to ensure their wellbeing. 

“We really wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing for our teams and for our customers,” he says. “We carried consultations with all employees, and it was clear that the majority wanted us to stay open, and to continue working. But there were also those who couldn’t, due to underlying health issues relating to them or someone in their household. So to support them we set up a hardship fund. And for those still working we launched a profit share scheme.

“It’s a really hard time to be working right now, and we want to be open for the right reasons. The focus isn’t on making money right now, it’s on survival.”

Unlike many operators in the sector, Yard Sale has remained open for business via delivery throughout the lockdown. And it has also continued to operate an in-house delivery service rather than outsourcing to a third-party provider. 

“Since we first launched, we’ve always wanted to do the best pizza delivery in London,” he says. 

“We’ve thought really hard in the past about potentially partnering with Deliveroo, but there’s plenty of reasons why we haven’t. We’ve always had the bikes and the infrastructure, and we didn’t want anyone to touch that.”

The challenge at the moment is making sure the quality of the product for delivery remains the same, despite the jump in demand. But what about looking to the future; will the restaurant’s be able to operate eat in under social distancing measures?

“We’ve thought about what we’ll do, but we’re yet to put any plans in place. The nature of our dine-in spaces are pretty casual, so it may be a good local option for people as and when we can reopen. But it’s definitely something we’re going to have to think about very carefully over the next few weeks.”

UnitedWeStand​​​​ has been created by William Reed hospitality titles BigHospitality, Restaurant magazine and Morning Advertiser and is supported by Britvic, CocaCola European Partners and Unilever Food Solutions.

To download this podcast via iTunes, click here​.

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