Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards Sessions

Jose Pizarro: "I had one day off in five months"

By Stefan Chomka

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags lockdown Jose Pizarro Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards Spanish cuisine Fine dining Tapas

Jose Pizarro says he had only one day off in five months as he fought to continue running his restaurant business during the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the latest video in the Estrella Damm National Restaurant Awards' Sessions series, the Spanish chef and restaurateur behind the Jose Pizarro Group speaks about the challenges of the past few months and how he has adapted his business to safeguard its future.

Pizarro discusses how he launched finish at home tapas kits in April, just a few weeks after England went into lockdown, because he wasn’t prepared to sit back and do nothing. He says the kits will now play an important role in the business even once restrictions on dining out have been eased.

“The future is to get income from different things because running restaurants is tough,” he says. “People will love to stay at home, so we have looked at ways to take our food to houses and are working hard with that.

“You have to be strong and positive and try something else for the business, the community and staff. When this [the pandemic] is finished it is important to bring new business in.”

The restaurateur, who runs three Spanish restaurants in the capital as well as a gastropub in Esher, describes the Government’s various restrictions on restaurants, such as the rule of six and the 10pm curfew, as trying to kill the industry “with a thousand cuts” but says the industry will survive.

“They are killing us very slowly. They will not kill us – they will make us stronger.”

Looking to the future, Pizarro says he intends to bring out a new book and is also looking ahead to potentially opening more restaurants when the time is right.

“We will come back to that hospitality feeling and be strong to make people happy.

“London will never change, it cannot change. It is one of the best cities in the world. We will get back to normal and we will be happy again.”

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