A WEEKEND of October sunshine would normally have been great news for Jersey’s restaurants, hotels and cafés.
But without access to gas, many have had to shut their doors to customers or serve a limited menu – turning it into “a nightmare”, according to one restaurant manager.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive Murray Norton said the problem had been an “absolute disaster” for the hospitality industry, with some venues forced to close when they were looking forward to a busy weekend, with customers eager to head out and enjoy the warm weather.
Mr Norton said: “Some venues were able to adapt and continue trading, but it’s been a difficult time for the industry and this was really bad timing.”
Fabrizio Vario, manager of the Italian restaurant Sorrento in St Aubin, said the restaurant had been “struggling”.
With only the (electric) oven in use, they were not able to cook pasta, and could only serve pizza and lasagne. Even worse, the oven only has capacity for two pizzas at a time – meaning customers faced long waits for their food.
“It’s been a nightmare,” Mr Vario said.
Of 100 bookings on Saturday night, the majority cancelled – with only 30 people eating at the restaurant.
“It’s a big problem for us,” Mr Vario said.
He added that the season had been slow, with cold weather and renovations, with many hopes pinned on this weekend. “We’re losing business, the weather’s amazing.
“At the beginning of the season, there were no people – the season’s been so slow.”
He added: “We really need to get gas as soon as possible. Otherwise, I don’t know if we can keep going.”
One of the worst-affected venues this weekend was Café Spice in Kensington Place, St Helier.
Owner Abdul ‘Sam’ Samad said that 82 people had been booked in for dinner on Saturday, and that it had been necessary to cancel all the reservations.
“There was little choice at short notice, and we also had takeaway bookings that had been made in advance,” he said.
“I hadn’t known anything like this in 35 years in the business, but customers were very understanding.”
Mr Samad said that by Sunday he had been able to amend the venue and operate for business, with around 60% of customers opting to stick with their bookings.
Pub chain Randalls said that the effect of the outage had been limited, although one St Helier venue – So Bar on the Esplanade – had to close due to a reliance on gas.
Operations director Nigel Godfrey said: “Most of our venues use electric induction for cooking, and the size of our estate is such which means that we were able to transfer some equipment between venues and amend some of the menus so that all bookings could be honoured.”
Despite many venues struggling, Islanders, businesses and organisations stepped up to help out, offering free showers and food.
Hotel Cristina, the Somerville Hotel, and the Old Court House Inn have all offered free showers to those who do not have access to hot water.
758024. For the Old Court House Inn in St Aubin, send a message to: facebook.com/TheOldCourtHouseJersey.
And the Salvation Army posted on social media to remind Islanders that their homemade warm soup was available to all, free of charge, from 9am-4pm, at their base in Minden Street, St Helier.