‘Treasured’ local businesses being classed as restaurants are suffering due to unclear guidance says Labour MSP

A Labour MSP has warned that ‘treasured’ local hospitality businesses are suffering due to the Scottish government not establishing clear differences between cafes and restaurants.
Cafe Grande was forced to close after being told by a council official that it was a restaurantCafe Grande was forced to close after being told by a council official that it was a restaurant
Cafe Grande was forced to close after being told by a council official that it was a restaurant

Daniel Johnson MSP criticised the government’s ‘fudged decision’ by citing Bruntsfield’s Cafe Grande as a prime example.

The small business which has an alcohol license, is described as a ‘family-run bistro/cafe’ offers a relaxed breakfast, brunch and lunch during the day, but also offers an evening menu.

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In line with recent restrictions, Cafe Grande stopped serving alcohol during the day and closed its doors at 6pm, however just days into the new restrictions were told by a council official that the business was classed as a restaurant and was forced to close.

Mr Johnson said: “Shutting a business literally called 'Cafe Grande’ would be ironic if it weren’t so serious for this treasured local business and its owner. When these latest restrictions were announced, the Scottish government were warned that the distinction between Cafe’s and Restaurants was not clear cut and this is a clear example of the consequences of that fudged decision.

“Any extension of these restrictions will amplify the consequences of the arbitrary distinctions that they rest on. Edinburgh is celebrated for its food culture, but that now seems to have been put in jeopardy by SNP ministers poorly thought through regulations and inadequate levels of compensation offered so far."

Robbie Park, owner of Cafe Grande said: “The restrictions have caused some worry and concern that income has come to a halt due to us being closed down, but the bills unfortunately don’t do that.

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“When the hospitality closures were first announced we were open on the Saturday and then open right through the weekend into Wednesday. Then someone from the council came round and said it had been decided that my business was a restaurant.

“We do have a good reputation for our food and it is a shame to see that penalised. We’re located in Bruntsfield and many businesses around us are in the same situation.”

He added: “When there was the long lockdown we tried to do a takeaway offering but it wasn’t a viable business for us. We were really busy the first couple of days this time round and the chefs had been doing the prep so it was a real shock when the council came round.

“We donated our lost stock to the St Cuthbert’s outreach programme.

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“The hospitality industry knows that the virus is no one’s fault, but we just need some help, somebody’s got to put their hand in our pocket.”

Council leader Adam McVey said: “We appreciate that this is an extremely challenging time for the hospitality sector and throughout the pandemic I’ve personally met with business representatives to explore what we can do to help traders in these circumstances.

“Our team is taking a very proactive approach visiting businesses and we’ve been working in partnership with them all to offer appropriate support to make sure there is compliance across the board. Unfortunately a few businesses that the criteria haven’t supported opening during these restrictions remain open, and to help stop the spread of the coronavirus our team have had to take further action to make sure that they close.”

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