One of Glasgow’s best restaurants, The Gannet on Argyle Street in Finnieston, will no longer open five days a week.

Chef owners Peter McKenna and Ivan Stein have made the decision to close Monday to Wednesday, starting in September.

As hospitality returns, the slow progress through levels of restrictions while the vaccination program vies with the aggressive transmission rates of the Delta variant has dampened the sense of optimism felt as table bookings resumed.

Industry figures say the full impact of the pandemic on the city’s restaurants is yet to be revealed. Meanwhile, the spectre of Brexit looms large and there is a growing staffing crisis.

Glasgow Times:

Peter McKenna says there is a growing staffing crisis across Glasgow and Scotland. There aren’t enough chefs available.

“We have been advertising for staff since before we reopened but we haven’t been able to employ more chefs. I have a brilliant team working with me and I want to ensure they have a decent work life balance,” he says.

“To ensure the wellbeing of the team and business we will have to raise the menu price to fall in line with our contemporaries in the city.

“We obviously have not taken this decision lightly. If the perfect storm of Covid and Brexit ever passes and we can find the right candidates, we will consider going back to a five day a week operation."

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The Gannet recently opened a second venue at the Bonnie & Wild food market in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter.

Peter says, “For our Edinburgh venture, we’ve been able to recruit an excellent head chef and build a core team but it’s been pretty difficult. Everywhere you look, kitchens are advertising for staff.”

“Some of the chefs in our kitchen went back to Spain and Italy due to the pandemic and they are not welcome back to the UK because of Brexit. Let’s face it, if you have the choicen to come to a post-Brexit Britain or go to a country in the EU, what would you choose?

“Scotland has done a fantastic job of marketing hospitality, there’s real pride in local sourcing, we are singing the praises of the restaurant experience. That hard work is all in vain if you can’t find the staff.”

James Newton of Newton First recruitment paints a stark picture of the situation as hospitality, particularly hotels, restart their business.

“There is an absolute dire need for entry level staff. Ordinarily we would be engaged to find candidates for a particular position. Now we are taking calls from hotels or hospitality groups that need entire teams of people just to be able to open the doors. That’s before they even start to think about who is available to cook for the guests that day.

“I know that there are a lot of places that are holding back rooms and limiting reservations because they don’t have the staff available. There was a Scottish hotel with 160 guests recently and they had to close their dining room because they had zero chefs.”

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Nic Wood, director of Signature Pub Group, a portfolio of venues in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling that includes Cold Town House and The Spiritualist recently spoke about the long process of recovery for hospitality.

He said: “Government needs to understand how long it takes to get the juggernaut that is hospitality back up to full power. We are all trying our best to get through this. Lack of staff and the cost of goods is what we the industry is struggling with. It’s costing us more now to do what we did before the pandemic.”

Derek Marshall, chef owner of Gamba restaurant in the city centre for the last two decades, is waiting for news on when offices will fully reopen.

He said: “I’m looking at what the reality will be in terms of lunchtime and early evening trade. We’re opening Thursday to Sunday at the moment and business has been good, we’re busy, but tourism and business customers are important to us so I need to understand when they will be back. We just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

After being closed for so long, Derek says hospitality staff are starting to question established working practices.

He added: “People’s thoughts have changed. Going in, putting on the chef whites, working 15 hours a day, the heat in the kitchen. It’s tough. The industry will need to take a look at itself. We have to understand where the next generation of chefs and owners are going to come from.

“Working in hospitality in other countries is a well respected job, we don’t have that regard. People don’t seem to move up the ranks anymore or get the proper training, but I’m not sure how we can change that.”