The Swine that Dines owner calls for customers' support as she warns Covid 'is not over yet' for Leeds hospitality
The owner of an acclaimed Leeds restaurant has said they "really need some support" as the effects of Covid are still battering the hospitality industry.
Jo Myers runs The Swine that Dines - currently operating as Here Comes the Bun - in North Street.
She and husband Stuart Myers previously ran The Greedy Pig Kitchen before converting the cafe - which was renowned for its breakfasts - into evening restaurant The Swine That Dines in 2018.
On Tuesday morning, she posted on social media: "Doesn’t come easy to say but we really need some support this week.
"First few weeks open were full of rain and hail so any reserves of cash we had are gone.
"Footfall up here is sparse. But what we do is really good and worth the walk.
"Even if it’s just for an ice cream sandwich."
A tweet from the restaurant's main account also read: "We made it through the last year and thought the end was in sight but the last few weeks have been really tough.
"We celebrated 10yrs in April. Be nice to make it a few more."
Jo told the YEP that now was the hardest time for the business in the ten years they have owned it.
She said: “It's like 10 years ago when we first started and we had nothing. It is really tough, there’s no reserves of cash.
“If something breaks we have no money to fix it, places are open but its not over yet and this is the reality for everyone, not just us.”
Jo said despite people now being able to eat inside, businesses was still fragile.
She added: “Places are operating at a third of capacity - that’s barely enough to pay the bills.
"At least when we were closed we had some stability. It can cost more to be open than to be close..”
Another issue is staff shortages in the hospitality industry, with some businesses not earning enough to hire.
Jo added: “It’s really tough, places have lost staff after furlough and many don’t want to return into what is a tough industry.
"If we want to expand our capacity we need more staff, but how are we meant to afford it?"
Businesses are delighted to have their customer’s back however, and Jo was quick to make that clear, adding: “We massively appreciate all of our returning customers, and also businesses nearby who have all showed us support, we have a great community and the thing is that this is the reality for not just us, but everybody”
In 2018, the couple spoke about the problem of last-minute 'no-shows' from customers who had made advance bookings, leaving businesses out of pocket. The issue led to them introducing a booking system whereby credit card details must be provided.
Jo said: "It was a September evening and for whatever reason, perhaps because the sun came out, we ended up with an empty restaurant. We had two members of staff on plus me and my husband. We didn’t work for anything but I still had to pay the two staff members because it wasn’t their fault that nobody turned up.”
After taking to social media to vent her frustration, Jo was inundated with messages of support from chefs from all over the country who understood where she was coming from.
“No business can afford that but especially a small one like ours," Jo said. "The competition in Leeds is so fierce that we’re fighting for every table and it’s got to the point where you have to say something, because I don’t think people always realise the consequences of what they’re doing.”
The Swine That Dines then decided to introduce a £10 per head if a party does not show up or cancels at short notice.
Jo added: “If people cancel two or three days in advance that’s fine because it gives me the chance to fill that table. We don’t mind people cancelling, things happen and plans change, but if someone doesn’t show up or cancels half an hour before their booking there’s nothing you can do.
“The issue we always had with that before was it was seen as the preserve of the high-end restaurants. So trying to convince customers to hand over their credit card details for a mid-range restaurant is still quite new, but I think in the next few years it’s going to become the norm because it’s the only way people can safeguard their business.”