When Boris Johnson announced last week that all restaurants must close their doors, I burst into tears. I founded The Restaurant Club Facebook group and discount scheme to promote and support restaurants and indeed share my passion for eating out. There are more than 22,000 hungry mouths to feed on the group and several thousand using the discount scheme. We review and recommend, we debate and discuss. We don’t always agree on what’s good and what’s not, but we are united in one thing – we love restaurants, cafes, bars and takeaways. Three of these are no longer available to us but takeaways… ah, now this is still a thing.
Being on the frontline, as it were, of the restaurant industry, I had been hearing first hand for weeks how much restaurants were struggling as fewer and fewer people were going out to eat. The restaurants bravely soldiered on, but the thought of them all being forced to close their doors and send their staff home broke my heart. At the same time, I was hearing about NHS staff being asked to work longer and longer shifts with hardly any breaks. And then I saw ‘that’ news clip about a distressed NHS nurse coming off her shift to find that there was nothing left on the supermarket shelves to buy to make a meal at home. I knew that I needed to do something, fast.
At 6pm on Friday night I set up a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to buy takeaways to deliver to NHS staff at hospitals. The restaurants get paid, the staff get fed – it’s a win-win! Within 48 hours the campaign raised £20,000 and the first delivery took place on Sunday. Bombay Central, an Indian restaurant in Harrow, delivered 100 veggie biryanis with yogurt and salad to staff at Northwick Park Hospital. Owner Rishi Lakhani was thrilled to be involved and wouldn’t even take the money. “I’m grateful for the support The Restaurant Club gives to independent restaurants. I feel honoured to take part and would like Louisa to donate the money to Covid-19 related shortages,” he said.
The nurse at the hospital who took in the delivery said: “Everyone was touched by the amazingly kind gesture. The support you are all giving us is amazing. It’s keeping us going to battle through at this tough time.”
The campaign has also paid for Bite me Burger in Chalk Farm to deliver 180 tasty mini burgers to Barts, The Royal Free and Charing Cross, Bombay Central in Harrow to deliver veggie biryanis to Northwick Park and BAW pan Asian restaurant in Mill Hill to send 100 Thai green curries and spring rolls to the Whittington. Further deliveries have been arranged over the next few days and will continue until the money runs out.
- See Louisa’s campaign here: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-feed-the-amazing-nhs-staff