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A view from a lonely kitchen.

 

When you’re told a scary story as a kid all seems lost because you can’t see what is scary. When you see what is scary you can process it and it becomes less scary, almost like you know its fragilities, like you can pick apart why its scary and what you can do to make it less scary. And so, you do. Covid19 is scary because mostly we do not know how to process it. We know how to take the sting from its tail by social distancing, but are we all really on board with this? That is the problem. For some, they just do not seem to see the scary monster in the room, they feel it, but they fail to see it, so they continue to feed it. We all know what happens when overfed. We explode. It explodes. I saw an older woman stare aimlessly at a shelf full of toilet rolls in a supermarket last Thursday, she just stood there looking, I doubt she was choosing which ones to buy as she probably buys the same ones every week, maybe she was just taking a moment to think about how life has changed in the blink of an eye. From writing possibly, a weekly shopping list to writing an isolation shopping list, this is where it changed. From luxuries to necessities. From leisurely strolls around the shop to picking out deals and reading labels to see what were consuming to a worrying grab and pay of canned goods, milk, bread and all the other essentials and getting the hell out of dodge. And back to worrying about what we may have consumed. And for some on returning home to isolation the real fear begins. A harmless cough is repressed because of what it may mean. Because of what we cannot see. The scary monster. The political spectrum has changed. Fine big speeches and briefings leaving more questions than answers. We will get through this together we are told, and we will. The good nature, the fun nature and the caring nature is all there to see and take warmth from. The restaurant industry has suffered, no doubt about that. People will say that it’s a luxury industry and in times of pandemics we should put that aside and do what is necessary and safe and we did, we do, and we shall. Each restaurant is different, an independent restaurant built on swollen, bruised, cut fingers and hands is a testament to individual endeavor. A creative mind seeing something in an empty disused space and building brick by brick a place that becomes more than just a space to enjoy some fish, meat or vegetables. It is a capsule of wonderful memories. That graduation, that wedding, that wedding anniversary, that place we broke up, made up and planned our futures. Amongst staff from everywhere around the world spawned a family, we fought, laughed, made up and learned. The family is breaking up, whether that is long term or short term remains to be seen, the monster we cannot see again. And of course, what we cannot see leads us down the path of fear. I can see on social media trembling’s of anger against those operating take-out and practicing social distancing. You cannot say they are right nor can you say they are wrong; they are practicing guidelines told to us by government. If it is not ok to do this, then we should be told to close. We will. The restaurant industry is full of the kindest and most dedicated professionals you will ever meet. They will down knives, they will close. We should also support and look after each other. Regardless of when it is safe to return a lot of damage has been done and like toilet roll, a lot of restaurants will be flushed down the toilet after all this is over, a lot of people who came from nothing and built something are facing a lifetime of ruin. That last sentence will mean nothing as we speak of people’s health, well-being and safety as it rightfully should come first. But in time it will lead to a new monster that we cannot see and a new fear we cannot process. I sat in my own restaurant alone feeling it slip away. Confused and horrified at myself for being selfish in times like this thinking about a space that sells food. But you see as I said before, it is more than that. It is a family that had many members and even if some left years ago they are still part of the fabric of what makes a restaurant special. Of what made it a home away from home. In my game, the restaurant game, it has always been about the small things, the consistency of food and service. Not being the best never bothered me, but not giving all always did. And as I look at an empty restaurant, dark, cold and lonely, I think of a boat tied to the dock and the splintering of the rope that keeps it safe and I do not know whether to save it or let it go out on its own. The fear of the unknown again rearing its ugly head. From Tuesday we will do Take out. Some will think it is good and some will think its stupid. I do not know what it will be, I can only adhere to guidelines, only adhere to delivering in a safe way. I will use it for good and provide meals to those who can use something good in their lives at this weary time in their lives. Maybe that is selfish. I don’t really know. All I can say is that I want to continue in this life making as much good memories as possible and building as much bricks upwards rather than downwards.

 

Sean Drugan