Portsmouth area restaurateurs call for support as staff shortages force them to close their doors

Restaurants are calling for more support after several have had such extreme staff shortages they have had to close.

By Sophie Murray
Friday, 7th January 2022, 1:20 pm

Several restaurants in and around Portsmouth have had to temporarily close this week due to staff shortages as a result of team members off work with Covid.

Becketts in Southsea and Koop+Kraft in Waterlooville are among those with so many of their kitchen and front of house workers currently at home isolating with the virus.

Terence Carvalho, general manager of Becketts closed the bar, restaurant and hotel from Sunday, January 3 until Friday, January 7, due to having six out of eight kitchen staff off with Covid across the last few weeks.

George Purnell, founder of Koop+Kraft

He said: ‘We need more support because this seems to be a problem across the industry. For example, the VAT rate is currently at 12.5 per cent, going back to 20 per cent in March, if this went back to 5 per cent like it did in the first stage of the pandemic this would help massively. If the value of grants increased for businesses forced to close, this would help too.’

George Purnell, founder of Koop+Kraft also temporarily closed his business from Tuesday, January 4 until Friday, January 7.

He said: ‘At an absolute minimum, we can operate with a workforce of 10, but with six off sick, out of a total of 14 in the team, it’s just not doable and we had no choice other than close for the week.

‘It’s gutting for us, as we thought we’d overcome the worst of the pandemic last year. The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting further away, but I know we’ll get there eventually.’

Kaz Miah, owner of the Kassia group of restaurants

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Kaz Miah, who runs the Kassia group of restaurants said he had the worst Christmas yet in terms of staffing.

He said: ‘Our venues managed to cope over Christmas by supporting each other with staffing. January is also set to be a tough month now as not many people are going out. Self-isolation times being shortened could definitely help the issue, but our costs are still going up, yet the industry is still suffering from the pandemic, so I think we need more ongoing financial support.’

George said the public can also give their support to help the businesses stay afloat.

Terence Carvalho, general manager of Becketts with one of his workers

He said: ‘We need support, both from government and from the public. There are options to help keep us going. People can buy gift vouchers and redeem them when we reopen, they could come for a meal when we reopen, support us on social media by sharing our posts so more people know we’re here and they come and visit. Some of the support doesn’t take a lot of effort, time or money, but helps us massively. We’re so grateful for those who have supported us at all over the last year, including our loyal regulars.’

Terence agreed, saying: ‘Our customers have been very loyal and supportive over the last few years and I know they’ll continue to support us. I also know the Becketts team will come back stronger once again as they’ve shown just how resilient they are over the last couple of years.’