Drinks industry makes noise at HospoDemo's second protest
Hundreds gathered on London's Parliament Square today to support the hospitality industry through a second HospoDemo protest.
The organiser, Rachel Harty, told The Caterer that today's turnout was predominantly from the drinks trade, with cocktail shakers replacing chef whites which were in abundance at the first protest in October.
"There's a lot of passion on display, we've had a couple of hundred people all trying to show the government how they feel about the restrictions on hospitality and the lack of financial support," she said.
"As I expected there's been a huge turnout from the drinks industry, a lot of publicans, bar tenders and bar owners here to make themselves heard – they have been completely and utterly deserted by the government."
Hospitality operators reacted with anger and dismay to the government's announcement of new tier restrictions for England which came into force last week.
In today's crowd – estimated to be around 200 people, adhering to social distancing rules and wearing face masks – was Alessandro Palazzi, head bartender from Dukes Bar in London. He said he had come to support his colleagues.
He said: "I'm lucky, but there aren't many people as lucky as I am. I've been in this industry for 45 years, I'm OK, but the youngsters, there's no jobs, people are being made redundant. So we're here to gather together and make some noise. My job is to support hospitality because hospitality gave me so much."
Xavier Rousset, master sommelier and co-founder of bars including Black Book, Cabotte City and Cafe Comptoir in London, told The Caterer he felt the industry had been ignored throughout the pandemic and he hoped the protest would result in the government taking the matter more seriously.
He said: "I think in the next two or three months there will be a lot of casualties, and everyone needs secure jobs to survive all of this, so we need the help of the government."
Anna Sebastian, bar manager of the Artesian bar at the Langham London, said the protest made her feel part of the bigger hospitality community: "We're speaking up for what we really believe in and what we think really needs to change as well. I hope this will have an impact, it's impacting us not just professionally, but in our personal lives as well."
Bartender and co-founder of the drinks industry non-profit organisation P(OUR), Alex Kratena, said he was protesting against the data the government is using to make its decisions which are impacting the industry.
"They bring out data which is based on Korean nightclubs," he said. "This nonsense must finish, we are one of the biggest employers and we employ a lot of young, talented people and it's so much bigger a disaster that anyone can imagine."
Meanwhile, Steve Perez, chairman of Global Brands, which supplies drinks to pubs and restaurants around the world, said his business has been "devastated" over the last nine months and called on the government to look at France and Germany as an example of how to support the industry.
"We think we've been treated absolutely appalling by this government," he said.