Young manager says restaurant is nearly empty since lockdown ended

Restaurant owner Jason Lawrence pictured outside his establishment. Jason laurent

  • The owner of Tartan Rooster said the establishment had few customers and was unsure why.

  • Jason Lawrence runs the highest rated company, based in Kincardine, Scotland.

  • He told Insider he was taking it “week by week” because he could shut down at any time.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

A 22-year-old restaurant owner expressed frustration that his much-loved establishment is on the verge of closing, despite his best efforts to attract customers.

Jason Lawrence owns Tartan Rooster in Kincardine, Scotland. He told Insider that despite the accumulation of five-star reviews, the restaurant has been nearly empty most of the time since May.

He often only has enough customers to fill two or three tables, at best, “and that puts everyone to work,” he said.

Lawrence, who started doing the dishes to earn money while in college, said he never felt a sense of accomplishment like he did when asked to run the restaurant .

But just as he took over, things got tough due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The pandemic has never let the tartan rooster show its full potential. We are confident that if COVID didn’t last that long, if not happen at all, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Lawrence said.

rooster tartan

Empty tables at Tartan Rooster. Jason laurent

Restaurants around the world are grappling with the immense pressure of the pandemic. In the United States, for example, 100,000 restaurants closed six months after the start of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.

A persistent labor shortage in the UK and US posed more challenges. In one of many recent cases, a pizzeria in Wisconsin, which had been operating for 64 years, announced it was closing, due to understaffing.

Meanwhile, Lawrence said he redecorated his restaurant to improve the overall guest experience, including renovating the upstairs dining room, bar, beer garden and main restaurant. But that still wasn’t enough to attract customers.

“Personally, I thought we would be full and we would have a hard time keeping up with all the bookings, but it’s quite the opposite,” he said.

The situation left Lawrence with an overwhelming sense of fear for his future and that of his seven employees. “I’m worried that I won’t be able to keep a job for anyone and I worry about paying my own bills,” he said.

It has also shaken the confidence level of the young manager, who he hopes will recover from the massive downfall he has suffered in recent months.

When asked how long his restaurant could survive with so few customers, Lawrence replied that he had “no idea”.

“Ideally I would like to go to Christmas and go from there, but it’s not guaranteed at the moment, so we’re taking it week by week right now,” he said.

In order to regain control of the situation, Lawrence hopes to hire more staff so that he can focus on promoting and strengthening his brand image. “But reaching the new year is our first goal,” he added.

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