The Box Leeds

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world, one of the hardest hit industries is really beginning to feel the pinch. The hospitality sector has come to a grinding halt and many of our favourite restaurants and bars in Leeds and beyond are facing huge rental bills they have no way of paying without taking out loans.

And, if the social distancing continues until the end of 2020 as suggested by Prof Chris Whitty, many beloved establishments will simply fold. In a bid to prevent this, a group of Leeds based business owners have joined forces with the aim of winning some support from the government via a letter.

Can you help? Signing the petition takes less than a minute and could save some of your favourite drinking and dining spots from going under. You can do that here.

Here’s the letter in full:

Why are we contacting you?

To demonstrate both our support for the Hospitality Union’s #NationalTimeOut initiative and express our distress at the current impending situation. The seriousness of which was further emphasised today (22nd April) by Prof Chris Whitty’s statement that social distancing will be required for the rest of this calendar year.

Presently hospitality businesses across the UK are in free fall. Whilst the initiatives already established by HM Government are needed and welcomed, they do not provide all the support that is so desperately required for our sector to survive. Indeed, should the mandatory and understandable closure of our businesses continue for much longer as now seems likely it is questionable whether the effort to establish the current measures was even worthwhile.

As explained in the Hospitality Union’s proposal we require a breathing space from rental payments until we can become operational entities once again. The proposal from the Hospitality Union provides a framework to do that whilst not ignoring the fact that we do not exist in isolation and we understand that our landlords have covenants which they must satisfy as indeed their lenders require to balance their books. Government intervention is required here to protect all these levels, without it everything could collapse like a house of cards.

Who are we?

We are the bar and restaurant owners of Leeds as listed at the end of this letter. On the whole, we are not huge national or international companies but in Leeds alone we employ thousands of people, across the country millions are employed in hospitality. We are limited companies, partnerships and family firms nurtured sometimes over decades or generations with love at the cost of blood, sweat and considerable tears in the quest to build our dreams.

Those dreams now hang in ragged tatters. Torn by the storm which is Covid 19. We blame no one for it but we had no way to prepare for it or mitigate against it. Even those of us who had infectious disease insurance are having their claims stone walled by insurers.

Without assistance we simply cannot survive on our own.

As people who have fought and grafted for years to build our businesses, begging for help does not come easily. Yet here we are on bended knee.

We ask you adopt the #NationalTimeOut framework urgently so that lenders can support landlords who can in turn support operators.

If not the social fabric of our country will never be the same again.

To those reading this in a public forum via traditional or social media, please remember where you met your loved one, where you laughed, where you sang, danced, ate, and drank.

We built our dreams so they could be the backdrop of your golden memories.

Please help us to be there for your future memory building.

Please help us by rallying to our cause for a #NationalTimeOut. and sign this petition.

Contact your MP. Share this letter.

To our friends and colleagues across the entire country, we beseech you to join us in our appeal to the government to protect our industry and all its stakeholders.

Below is a list of contacts for local Leeds MPs please forward this letter with your endorsement to your MP urgently.

Thank you.

Shadow Treasurer and Leeds West: Rachel Reeves rachel.reeves.mp@parliament.uk

Leeds North East: Fabian Hamilton fabian.hamilton.mp@parliament.uk

Leeds Central: Hilary Benn boxj@parliament.uk

Richard Burgon Leeds East: richard@richardburgon.com

Leeds North West: Alex Sobel alex.sobel.mp@parliament.uk

Jointly Signed

Martin Wolstencroft CEO & Co Founder Arc Inspirations

Jamie Lawson Owner Ossett Brewery & Pubs & SALT Beer Factory

Scott Munro Co Founder Red’s True Barbeque

Seema Dhiman Director/Owner Demon Leisure & The Brotherhood

Adam Jones M.D. Tattu Restaurants

Mark Young Director Sela Bar

Phil Harrison Director Escapism Bar Group Ltd

William Pearson Director Boot & Rally Ltd

Marko Husak Director Bundobust

John Gyngell Director North Bar Ltd

Andrew Turner Director Wax Bar

Ashley Kollakowsli Director Rose Four Ltd

Matthew Jones CEO/Director Roxy Leisure Ltd

Malcolm Evans Director MOJO

Ben Warren Director Concept Taverns Ltd

Aaron Mellor M.D. Tokyo Industries/Reds Ture Barbeque

Ed Mason Director Whitelocks Ale House Ltd

Christian Townsley Director North Bar Ltd

Mayur Patel Director Bundobust

Martin Greenhow M.D. MOJO

For more information contact jordan@pinkgorilla.co.uk