Goodbye 2020, and hello 2021

Thursday 31st December 2020

It’s fair to say 2020’s been quite a year… and not the one anyone could’ve expected. We started with high hopes and plans for growth; we end it quite differently.

During the first lockdown, with the immediate closure of our restaurants and staff furloughed, we dreamed of nothing more than being able to reopen again. Hospitality is our chosen trade, and the reason we get up in the morning. Nothing lifts our hearts more than seeing and hearing a buzzing restaurant, with the warm murmur of happy voices and clink of cutlery, plates and glasses.

By the summer, after lots of planning, the doors finally reopened and the tables filled up again. I’m proud of how hard everyone worked to make sure customers and staff were made to feel welcome and stay safe. The outpouring of positivity and support meant so much to us all. The next few months were hard work, but it felt so good to be cooking and serving to our customers.

Prompted by changing conditions, we launched our online shop in November – something we’d hoped to do for some time – and it’s been a great success. You’ve really embraced the hampers and gift sets we sell, and it’s been great to hear how many have enjoyed a little bit of the El Gato Negro experience at home.

Throughout all the twists and turns, highs and lows, and changes to how we’ve had to operate, we’ve been buoyed up by two things. First, all our colleagues across our restaurants in Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool. They’ve been brilliant – patient, hard-working, positive and professional – and I’m so proud of and grateful to them. What a team! And secondly, you; our customers. Your support, understanding and enthusiasm and loyalty has been a constant feature in an ever-changing world. You have meant the world to us, and we cannot thank you enough.

We recognise it’s been a year of uncertainty and disruption for everyone, and for many it’s also brought change and loss. So we look forward to brighter days ahead in 2021, and can’t wait to welcome you back through our doors as soon as we can. Thank you again, and may you and those close to you have a peaceful and safe start to the New Year.

Simon Shaw says goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021