Panoramic 34’s Elliot Hill on re-opening his Liverpool restaurant post-lockdown

After being closed for months, our restaurants, pubs and bars are re-opening their businesses to a new normal. Elliot Hill, Head Chef at Liverpool’s Panoramic 34 waterfront restaurant, tells us about his post-lockdown plans.
Q
Are you feeling confident about customers coming back?
A
Early in lockdown, my friends were saying I’ll be out of a job because people have been learning to cook at home. Now they’re all saying, ‘no, you’re right, you’re going to be busy. Home cooking just isn’t the same as eating in a really good restaurant!’ So I’m hopeful customers will return to us. People have been desperate to celebrate birthdays and special occasions with friends and family, and it’s up to us to give them an exceptional experience, now more than ever.
Q
Can customers expect any menu updates?
A
Yes, for us, the trick is to pare down, not dumb down. We’ll still have our tasting menu, because that’s our signature, but we’ll team it with a simpler four/four/four menu featuring the best of British produce, and we’re not lowering our prices. I believe people will be willing to push the boat out a little more. We’re also shifting the emphasis away from afternoon teas in the bar area and focusing more on the higher spend we can generate in the restaurant.
Preparing food at Liverpools Panoramic 34
Q
Staffing-wise, how will you deal with the changes?
A
Instead of a crew of ten, I’ll have two prep chefs in at night to get things ready for the day’s service, and just five in during the day. It’s really important to me that my staff feel as safe as our customers. We’ll have limited covers, but longer opening hours to balance it out.
Q
What changes have you made to your restaurant layout to comply with regulations?
A
We’re using our bar and lounge space for spill-over tables from the restaurant so we can comply with the social distancing measures. There’s now a lot of physical distance between tables and we can attend to customers while still keeping the distance. This way, we can follow guidelines, make customers feel safe and give the best fine dining experience we possibly can. Personal service and attention is still vital, we want our customers to feel looked after.
Q
How are you feeling about the future of hospitality post-lockdown?
A
I’m upbeat and positive. Hospitality professionals are a resilient bunch. We work long hours, we fight, we’re adaptable to change and we’re creative. If anyone can survive this and thrive, we can!
Empty restaurant

Elliot’s top tips for reopening

 

1 Think about your supply lines in these uncertain times. Buy seasonal and local where you can
2 Treat it like a relaunch. Vow to take things to the next level, and keep it there
3 Don’t rush to open or be the first to announce Christmas plans. If you’re not ready, wait
4 Quality is everything. If your food doesn’t work as a take-out, don’t offer it or come up with an alternative offering that still represents
5 Whatever you do, make sure you knock people’s socks off!
Waitress putting cutlery on a table in restaurant
Elliot Hill in Panoramic 34

What I’m most looking forward to:

Everything. I just miss being in our ‘natural habitat’ of the working kitchen so much!

The meal I’m most excited about cooking:

Salt aged duck, carrot and horseradish. Can’t wait to cook this one!

Favourite ingredient:

I adore the natural sweetness of honey, and the differences between them

Store cupboard essential:

Sea salt flakes, or an extra nice vinegar

Favourite meal out:

Moor Hall, in Aughton. That’s as good as it gets.

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