Ranjit Mathrani on re-opening MW-Eat

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Ranjit Mathrani co-owner MW-Eat Chutney Mary, Amaya, Masala Zone

Related tags Ranjit Mathrani MW-Eat Indian cuisine Masala Zone Chutney Mary Veeraswamy Amaya London Coronavirus

MW-Eat chairman and co-owner Ranjit Mathrani is planning to open the whole of his 10-strong estate of London Indian restaurants on 4 July.

"But after that we will be tuning our opening times and days based on demand. For example, we don't expect lunch trade to be viable for most of our restaurants in residential locations initially so we will probably only offer lunch on weekends," says Mathrani on BigHospitality's latest United We Stand podcast.

Mathrani - who operates the seven-strong Masala Zone alongside the more high-end Chutney Mary, Amaya and Veeraswamy - is working on a worst-case scenario of 30% utilisation for the first four weeks.

He is cutting his cloth accordingly, taking full advantage of the furlough scheme to ensure staff costs are as proportionate as possible to the level of trade.

"All restaurant will be operating at a loss for the first five to six months and they need to have the financial resilience to get through it," he says.

A former merchant banker, Mathrani has been in the restaurant business since the mid 1990s when he advised his wife Namita Panjabi and her sister high profile Indian food writer Camellia on the purchase and operational setup of Chutney Mary.

The then Chelsea restaurant was an instant hit with critics and in many respects redefined the Indian restaurant experience, paving the way for other forward-thinking chefs and restaurateurs.

He is confident of MW-Eat's ability to get through the crisis so long as there is not a second wave of infections that leads to another lockdown.

"We can't avoid a doomsday scenario where the bottom falls out of everything following another large spike and a shutdown," he says. "But if we don't survive 99% of British hospitality will also not have survived. We'll be one of the last standing."

#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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