WHEN Ego Mediterranean Restaurants decided to expand into Lavernock earlier this year, little did they know the challenges they would face.

Initial plans were to open in April, but the UK entering its first lockdown put paid to that, and Ego was unable to perform its grand opening until August.

Now, having only been open for a few months, staff at Ego at The Schooner Inn have been met with a constant need to diversify.

"It has been a very difficult time, we’ve had a quarter of the year with no revenue [between April and July], which would hit any business hard,” said head of marketing James Coldrey-Mobbs. “We opened in the middle of the pandemic, so were planned for it from day one. We started with that challenge and it’s now the norm.”

The restaurant has proven popular so far, which is helping staff get through a tough firebreak lockdown period.

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“It’s been amazing, we were full in August during the Eat Out to Help Out period, and it continued throughout September and October," he said.

“It was nice people had the confidence to go the restaurant, perhaps because it’s very spacious and has a big car park, so you’re not on a time limit."

The restaurant has gone from being at capacity most days to having no footfall at all in November, and has had to diversify to make a success of the new lockdown period.

Much of the full menu has been quickly transferred online, and customers can now order for collection between 12pm and 9pm, seven days a week, up to three days in advance.

Penarth Times: Craig with customers at EgoCraig with customers at Ego

The system has gone so well that it will now continue indefinitely.

“Takeaway services hasn’t been something we’ve ever done because most of Ego’s sites are in areas where takeaway services aren’t as readily available,” Mr Coldrey-Mobbs explained.

“But in Penarth there was scope for that, and it’s gone really well. In the long term it won’t be enough to keep the business going, but it is helping us now.”

General manager Craig Harding said: “It has been a big project to get this up and running so quickly, but we’re really excited about how it could work moving forwards.

“The support we’ve been shown over the past few months meant we couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. We really hope to welcome back many of the friendly faces we have been accustomed to.”

On the impact of the coronavirus on the hospitality sector, Mr Coldrey-Mobbs added: “It’s been huge for everyone. We’re now having to pay very close attention to the finances and are continuously having to change and adapt to different restrictions.

“The latest data I’ve seen is that three to five per cent of cases are linked to the sector.”

To find out more about takeaway orders at Ego visit https://ego.orderswift.com/the-schooner-inn-penarth.