Shop Local: Romford restaurant owner on bouncing back after ‘devastating’ lockdown

PUBLISHED: 12:00 11 November 2020

Bunno owner Serhiy Horobets with his son Denis. Picture: Serhiy Horobets

Bunno owner Serhiy Horobets with his son Denis. Picture: Serhiy Horobets

Serhiy Horobets

With the second lockdown in progress, a Romford restaurant owner has revealed how the pandemic has impacted trade and how he’s managing to keep his independent business afloat.

The order station that Serhiy Horobets made for his restaurant Bunno. Picture: Serhiy HorobetsThe order station that Serhiy Horobets made for his restaurant Bunno. Picture: Serhiy Horobets

Serhiy Horobets, who moved to the UK from Ukraine 15 years ago, opened Italian restaurant Bunno in 2019.

The 42-year-old father-of-two said that whilst the government’s initial furlough scheme in March helped the South Street restaurant, economic uncertainty has challenged independent businesses.

He said: “When lockdown happened it was a really difficult time, it was devastating. It was the first year that we opened so we were running with a loss for the whole year.

“To open this business it took a lot of effort and lifetime savings in order to open it because it hasn’t been built with any investors. The biggest investor is myself and my business partner. If we go bust we as investors are going to be the biggest losers, so I will work till the end to make this work.”

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During the first lockdown Serhiy explained that whilst some of his seven staff were eligible for furlough, the restaurant was forced to make difficult decisions to make others redundant.

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The restaurant was financially supported by profits from Serhiy’s wholesale coffee equipment business, Embutidos Gamboa Ltd.

Despite the challenges, Serhiy found innovative ways to keep business alive when Bunno reopened on May 1 including his DIY self-service takeaway restaurant stand that he built in his garden.

The delivery stand, made using scrap wood from Serhiy’s garage, his iPad and £12 worth of vinyl, has been a success for the restaurant enabling customers to order food and drink whilst minimising contact.

The restaurant reopened on July 4 with socially distanced seating but is now operating a takeaway service only.

Serhiy remains optimistic that whilst challenges lay ahead the restaurant is more prepared.

The restaurant offers takeaway from its website, Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats, including pre-prepared fresh pasta dishes, pizza and easy family meal deal kits which include fresh pasta and sauces to be assembled at home.

Serhiy’s final message to the community is that we should remain hopeful and positive.

He said: “We’re all in this together in helping each other.”

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