THE owner of a landmark restaurant in Glasgow yesterday declared he did not have “any clue” of the rules under which he would be able to operate over the key Christmas and new year period, likening the situation to “walking blindfolded”.

Marco Giannasi, who opened the Battlefield Rest on the city’s south side in 1994, has closed temporarily to sit-in diners for a third time this year in accordance with coronavirus-related restrictions, with Glasgow’s move into tier-four arrangements last Friday.

Mr Giannasi is opening on Fridays and Saturdays only, for a takeaway service, during the current three-week period in which restaurants in the Glasgow City Council and 10 other local authority areas in tier four are closed to sit-in customers.

Looking beyond current restrictions to the rest of the festive period, he told The Herald in an interview: “You can’t plan on anything. I understand we are in a very critical stage of the pandemic but it doesn’t give us any clue of how we are going to trade in the next few weeks.

“I am sure there is going to be another lockdown in January. There is no vision for us of what next.”

He said it would help his business when it reopens to sit-in customers to be able to open for longer in the evening than the 6pm limit in place before the move to tier four, and to be able to serve alcohol for at least part of the day.

Emphasising this would not involve consumption of large amounts of alcohol, he added: “I don’t see an issue at lunchtime with a customer going absolutely paralytic on a drink and going outside to spread the virus.

“It is common sense. The customers – they come in [and] they are so upset about not having a glass of wine with their meal. They don’t want a bottle of wine. They don’t want a massive volume of spirits. They just want a decent glass of wine to enjoy their meal, especially in the festivity.”

Mr Giannasi, who is using the UK Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme to enable him to keep on staff amid the restrictions, noted the takeaway service helped him meet some of the Battlefield Rest’s other costs. This service has proved popular with loyal customers.

The restaurateur, who owns and runs the Battlefield Rest with his wife Yellena, is paying the national insurance and pension contributions of furloughed staff under the job retention scheme.

Mr Giannasi has applied to Glasgow City Council for grant funding to support the business through the latest restrictions but said this was likely to amount to only £3,000 if he was lucky. He flagged greater grant support for restaurants, bars and cafes in Italy amid the pandemic. And he underlined his view that rateable value was irrelevant in assessing support required by businesses unable to trade amid Covid restrictions.

Mr Giannasi also flagged the potential mental health impact on employers and staff in the sector amid continued uncertainty over what the future would hold, including on rules around trading and possible further lockdowns. He sees this as an increasingly important issue.

He tweeted yesterday morning: “Good morning. [Being] in the restaurant business at the moment is like to walk blindfolded we do not have any ideas of what plans there are in place during the festive season! Will we have a licence? How late will we trade? Any grants still available?”

Mr Giannasi highlighted heavy investment to ensure the restaurant, which employs 16 people, was a safe environment for diners amid the pandemic.

Asked yesterday what would help, he replied: “For our side of things in the restaurant, a slightly extended opening on hours at least for the Christmas period. At least to [be able to] operate with a licence for a certain time of the day, if not possible for the full time of the opening hours.

“If we could trade to 8 o’clock – however if the licence for the alcohol is a concern at least to have a licence for the alcohol til three in the afternoon. At least we have an opening [then] for a customer to have a glass of wine with their lunch.”

Mr Giannasi has noted previously that he has spent at least £20,000 in total on remodelling the kitchen to enable staff to social distance, on other coronavirus-related measures such as screens, sanitisers, and signage, and on ensuring retention of employees amid the crisis.

Noting the number of covers had been reduced from 65 to 35 to enable social distancing, he said yesterday: “We have screens in place. We have lost half of the capacity of the restaurant. People are contained in their own spaces. They are sitting down. They don’t move around. It is the ideal safe environment if you want to spend some social time.”

Mr Giannasi noted supermarkets and schools were still open in tier four.

He said: “We have got such a controlled environment and still don’t trade [for sit-in customers] at the moment. We are controlled. Everything is fine. Every time we trade it is all by the book but yet we just get hammered once again. It is a struggle. Every time there is a lockdown, you just feel it is another chisel against your sanity.”

Mr Giannasi had tweeted on Saturday: “Today is the [beginning] of our third lockdown at ‘Battlefield Rest’ and each time it happens is getting harder by the minute! I feel a sense of numbness and panic of what will be next what will be the Government next step!”