The owners of Lunya, the Catalan/Spanish deli, restaurant and bar, have made the decision to close the Deansgate site and will not be reopening when current government restrictions are lifted.
Lunya has two sites in Liverpool and one in Manchester. But the impact of Covid-19 on the family-owned business has been such that they cannot survive with three restaurant sites.
“As soon as we partially open with space restrictions, the losses that we will collectively make will be too great to sustain across all three sites and risk bringing the whole company down,” said co-founder Peter Kinsella.
“No matter what projections we do and what actions we try, sadly we cannot find a way to make it all work.
“We have been in discussions with our Manchester landlord, our lenders and government agencies trying to secure additional funding and support which could help, but we have been unsuccessful in most of this, and there is no option that we can find that means Lunya Manchester can be viable.”
Since Lunya opened its Manchester restaurant just under five years ago, it has been named MEN City Life restaurant of the year and has been listed in the Good Food Guide every year.
Brexit has presented challenges for everyone in the hospitality industry, especially Lunya as an import-focused business.
On top of declining consumer confidence, a huge drop in the Euro exchange rate and large increases in business rates, general costs and overheads, the devastating impact of the coronavirus has made Lunya Manchester financially untenable, and the current Manchester city centre site too expensive to operate.
The deli will continue online and deliver locally via their Hanover Street operation, providing a click and collect service at a venue to be determined and even put on events with partner venues. be maintaining service to customers in Manchester.
“On a personal level, we are terribly sad and disappointed that it has come to this,” Peter continued.
“Anyone who knows us and the business will know we have thrown everything at it, are very proud, passionate and active owners and work every day in our restaurants. We have grown a fabulous restaurant, bar and deli in Manchester, we have made some great friendships and had some really good times working with our team and giving our customers the very best of Catalan and Spanish food.
“The memories of this and the positive impact we have made on the Manchester gastronomy scene, we will never lose. We have wonderful customers and hope through our online, local deliveries and other events we will still enjoy their support and serve them – just in a different way. It will be more ‘hasta pronto’ rather than ‘adios’.
“It worries us that if we cannot get through this without a site closure, how will the rest of the industry? We are a strong and successful business.”
But Lunya may well be back in the future, if it can find a smaller, more cost-effective site.
“Manchester hasn’t seen the last of us,” said Peter.
In the meantime, Peter and Elaine are urging other local restaurants and bars to recruit their staff.
“We would urge any other restaurant operators who are seeking talented chefs, waiters, retail staff, bar staff and managers to consider the huge talent that our staff have as they seek to recruit to their teams. We have looked at opportunities for redeployment in Lunya Liverpool and Lunyalita into operational posts, but we have no vacancies in either of those sites.”
All of Lunya’s Manchester staff are furloughed, and the owners have promised to maintain this for as long as possible.
“Given the changes to the furlough scheme in coming months, we envisage our staff finishing at the very end of August, when all of our staff are likely to be made redundant as the contributory costs to furlough are not tenable without income. We have started a statutory redundancy consultation with all of our 30 strong team.”
There will likely be many more closures such as this across the country. Many operators have not qualified for any government support grant, and even if they have insurance cover for pandemics, business interruption and forced closure, many restaurant operators are discovering insurers are denying claims.
In March, Peter wrote an impassioned letter to the prime minister about action the government needed to take to support businesses. Whilst some things improved, the government response was not enough.
— Lunya Liverpool (@Lunya) March 18, 2020