When Scottish Enterprise contacted Beauty Kitchen about bidding for a tender to produce hand sanitiser for the frontline during the coronavirus outbreak, including the NHS, the company did so without compromising its values: “Because we are a young, growing business with an entrepreneurial mindset, we were able to pivot and developed a range of antibacterial products, including a hand sanitiser. We moved our manufacturing into producing 50,000 hand sanitisers, not only because it was the right thing to do but it helped us face the challenge, to find an alternative way of doing things. Our product range will be here for the foreseeable future and we’ve employed two more people.”
Beauty Kitchen has also encouraged the NHS to use reusable bottles, which Chidley says is better than recycling. It reduces waste as well as the environmental impact of production. “The NHS has never done anything like that before. Our hand sanitisers don’t have any microplastics in them, they’re 100% natural, we get the empty bottles back, wash them, refill them and send them back out. For me, that was one of the great things that’s happened since the challenge of coronavirus.”
Josh Owens-Baigler, owner, Angelina Restaurant
Hackney restaurant Angelina started impressing diners with a unique mix of Italian and Japanese cuisine in February 2019, and before the coronavirus hit, things were going extremely well.
“We were acknowledged by the Michelin Guide in our first year and received some really humbling reviews from the food press,” says owner Josh Owens-Baigler. “Turnover was ahead of what we had expected and after taking some really scary financial risks to open, we were really happy with how it was all going.”
“The beginning of this year  was particularly great for Angelina,” he adds. “We were busy right up until the week before lockdown – February was our best month since opening.”
Angelina’s close ties with Italy, the first European country to feel the full impact of coronavirus, played a part in preparing Owens-Baigler and his team for what was to come. “Having heard early on what was happening for our friends over there, we realised that before long the spread of coronavirus was going to dramatically affect the way we do things here too.”
Those warnings sparked internal discussions not only about what could be done to ensure the restaurant’s survival during a lockdown, but also how Josh and his team could support staff and the local community through a difficult and uncertain time. “In our sector there are a lot of unattached Europeans and people from across the world who don’t have their families with them – they work incredibly hard, so it was important that we did everything we could to mitigate against disaster for them.”
After considering various routes forward the team decided it wanted to get nutritious food to as many vulnerable people as possible in the local area. “We knew there’d always be people who were hungry in our community,” says Josh. “And with our skills and tools, we knew we could make a lot of food really quickly.”
After simplifying the restaurants offering to boost the number of meals they were able to make, the team then reached out to local community food kitchen Made In Hackney and the two organisations began working together to raise funds and identify the people, shelters and charities that’d benefit most from their support – to incredible effect. “After scaling up and up, we managed to hit about 500 deliveries per day and by the end of July, we’re expecting to have provided around 40,000 meals.”
Total ‘normality’ might still be some way off for the hospitality sector, but Owens-Baigler and his team have been preparing for life after lockdown. “About a month ago we started thinking about what reopening will look like,” he says. “We took our first steps by launching a Friday night takeaway service, cooking the food we’d normally cook. We also revisited the retail route and have been providing ingredient hampers for people to use at home.”
See below for more insight on Angelina Restaurant.