Shrewsbury restaurateur fears the worst without more Government support

A restaurateur grappling with Covid-19 rules and restrictions fears her family business will not survive into 2021 because she does not qualify for government support.

Jackie invested Government funding from earlier this year in a new outdoor seating area
Jackie invested Government funding from earlier this year in a new outdoor seating area

Jackie Smith runs Exo Poli in Longden Road, Shrewsbury, a Greek restaurant and taverna.

Jackie and her family opened the restaurant last April and have already had to fight for survival because of the historic Shrewsbury flooding earlier this year, which saw parts of Coleham underwater.

When the pandemic hit, they qualified for Government support funds and spent the money on a new outdoor seating area to comply with social distancing guidelines.

But with Shropshire remaining in the first tier of the Government’s alert system, Jackie said she is suffering the worst of both worlds – not qualifying for support that is available to businesses in higher tiers, and not attracting enough customers to keep the lights on.

“We’re just in tier 1 at the moment, we don’t get any help.

“Because we’re in tier 1, they are assuming businesses can continue as normal. There is absolutely no help for us at the moment.

“The last couple of weeks have been absolutely horrific. We’re getting so few bookings.

“Even though we’re not in the highest level, people are still so nervous about going out and it’s really impacting our trade.

Jackie wanted to use her experience working in tavernas on Crete to bring Greek dining to Shrewsbury

“During lockdown we were doing takeaways, I think we were one of the first to turn to takeaways.

“We are fighting for survival.

“I understand everyone is in the same boat, it’s brutal.

“We just paid our rent up to December 24 – I gave our landlord fair warning that we might not be able to pay him next time.”

Jackie lived and worked on Crete for a decade and when she came to Shropshire she wanted to replicate the taverna feel.

“It has always been our dream, we’ve invested so much into it.”

The Government website’s latest update on business grants said: “The Chancellor has also announced approved additional funding to support cash grants of up to £2,100 per month primarily for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation and leisure sector who may be adversely impacted by the restrictions in high-alert level areas.”

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