Restaurant Catalan Barcelona Tapas Bar brings the taste of Spain to Southsea as it relaunches with a new menu after overcoming chef scarcity
A SPANISH tapas bar in Southsea has been relaunched with a new menu after a difficult 18 months that has seen it hard hit by a scarcity of staff.
Catalan Barcelona Tapas bar in Marmion Road welcomed dozens of guests on Saturday to try its new menu, with a new head chef coming on-board after a difficult recruitment drive for the restaurant.
With the restaurant’s previous chef moving on after the first lockdown last March, and many chefs choosing to retrain or remain on furlough with existing firms, finding chefs is like finding ‘gold dust’, according to assistant manager Maddy Arabbetou.
She said: ‘Here we like to not use agencies, we treat our staff like a big family. With chefs its really hard because a lot of them retrained while they were on furlough.
‘But hopefully now it’s onwards and upwards.’
Her father and the restaurant’s owner Sam Arabbetou said: ‘It’s not just me – lots of places have been hit.’
Latest figures from hospitality industry trade body UKHospitality confirm 85 per cent of venues are looking to hire chefs while 80 per cent need front-of-house staff.
Across Portsmouth, pub landlords and restaurant managers have said they have struggled to feel much needed roles, with pressure coming from workers remaining on furlough, choosing to retrain or find other employment during the pandemic, and the increasing number of staff isolating due to the ‘pingdemic’.
After a soft reopening last month which saw some tentative crowds return for indoor service, the restaurant hopes to put the ‘worrying’ last 18 months behind it with its new team.
Sam said: ‘We have a fantastic head chef here now.’
With the restaurant full of customers enjoying their food, Maddy added: ‘We have missed (this) feeling. It’s feel like back to normal.’
The restaurant serves traditional Spanish food and new plates include meatballs served with bread and coleslaw, pulled brisket beef, also served with bread and coleslaw, and salt and pepper squid served with sriracha mayonnaise.
The restaurant, which aims to be Southsea’s little corner of Spain, plans to reinvent the menu roughly every three months to use seasonal produce.
Businessman Sam, who also runs nearby Italian restaurant Pitigliano in Marmion Road, is now set to open a new Greek restaurant focused on gyros meals in Osborne Road, due to start trading in September.
Story by Richard Lemmer
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