THE owner of a landmark Glasgow restaurant has highlighted his belief that the UK and Scottish governments have done all they could to support the sector amid the coronavirus pandemic, declaring the “worst is over”.

Marco Giannasi, who owns the Battlefield Rest on the south side of the city with wife Yellena, flagged the importance of being “positive” as restaurants prepare to reopen, in an interview with The Herald.

He emphasised the importance of state support measures including the coronavirus job retention scheme, the opportunity to defer value-added tax payments, grant funding, and the business rates holiday.

Mr Giannasi, who revealed strong bookings for the restaurant ahead of its reopening to diners on April 26, declared: “The worst is over and the government has supported fairly. We can’t complain about the government because they have done more than they have in other countries. I don’t think they could have done more than they have.”

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He confirmed these comments were made in the context of both UK and Scottish government support. The restaurateur flagged his view that problems in obtaining adequate grant funding earlier in the pandemic had been resolved as more time became available to organise support.

Mr Giannasi said: “For opening, I think we need to be positive now. I think there is a positive vibe around us at the moment, with quite a few new wee coffee shops bouncing open at the moment. I think that gives a bit more confidence.”

Commenting on the general outlook for the sector, he added: “I have heard of quite well-known restaurants deciding not to reopen – maybe not at the moment. Some will fall and some will be reborn again. Out of the ashes, some are going to rise again. There are always the winners and the losers out of all of these [things], unfortunately.

“We are happy to reopen – looking forward to. We have a few changes. I think we are getting excited – chefs and [other] staff – [about] starting back on a new note. We have had a chance to review and rethink ourselves a little bit. In many ways, the pandemic gave us time to reflect on the past and what we could do in the future.”

Mr Giannasi had tweeted on Friday: “I think I speak for all in the hospitality industry – we are counting the days to the reopening of our business! Clouds have lifted from above us and the blue sky will prevail.”

The veteran restaurateur sees a case for individual businesses in the sector being given further government support if they find they require this, but he does not expect there to be a need for further blanket assistance beyond that already laid out.

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Mr Giannasi said: “I wouldn’t say to do a flat, one rule for everyone – to say in six months we are going to give you more money. I don’t think that is fair. The individual may possibly come back and say, ‘We have been trading for six months. This is the situation right now. We are still struggling right now because of the past drainage of our resources before then.’. Some will say, ‘We are fine again.’. I know it is more work to individually pinpoint, or trying to work out a system for people to just approach a local government body.”

He was upbeat about the outlook for the Battlefield Rest, emphasising the restaurant could cope with the general ban on serving alcohol to indoor diners that is planned to run until May 17. Alcohol sales are permitted to outdoor diners when restaurants reopen on April 26.

Mr Giannasi said: “If we can manage to trade in a normal way from June, we have got six good months. Hopefully people will come back to us. For the three weeks til the 17th of May, this licence, no licence, I can get by. We have done it before. I can get by. If it is a sunny day, we will make the most of the outdoor.”

Declaring the Battlefield Rest would use canopies and parasols rather than a marquee, he added: “The outdoor is what it has to be. If you put [up] a marquee it is not going to be outdoor any more – it is going to be indoor, out.”

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He noted the Battlefield Rest, which has cut its indoor capacity from 65 to 35 because of the pandemic and expects to be able to seat 30 people outside, was fully booked in terms of its outdoor space on Friday April 30 and Saturday May 1.

Mr Giannasi quipped: “If it rains, we have got a problem. Either they have to bring brollies and overcoats or they have to cancel their booking. I am trying to encourage customers – just bring your own quilt…There is no harm to plan for that, just in case. I think just because people are so desperate to re-socialise and have a drink, they will find ways they are going to sit outside, no matter what.”

The restaurateur last month expressed his happiness he has managed to retain all of his staff, and declared it “feels like waking up from a bad dream”.

The Battlefield Rest, which has been open for takeaways at weekends during the current lockdown, employs 16 people in addition to Marco and Yellena Giannasi.