Restaurant owner warns of closure fears

Family-run Vietnamese Street Kitchen hit by lockdown backs #RaiseTheBar campaign.

An Asian restaurant on Westside could be forced to close with the loss of up to eight jobs unless the government provides more funding to help it survive COVID-19.

The family-run Vietnamese Street Kitchen was launched in Brindleyplace two years ago and it quickly became a popular place for quality fast food for staff from nearby offices and residents.

This success resulted in the restaurant scooping the ‘Best Newcomer’ trophy in Westside BID’s Wonders of Westside awards earlier this year. But since the lockdown, the venue itself has had to close its doors to guests, offering an online delivery service instead, and trade has plummeted.

Oliver Ngo, of Vietnamese Street Kitchen, is one of many business leaders on Westside who is backing the national #RaiseTheBar campaign to enable hospitality, leisure and retail companies to access more financial help from the government.

The lobbying campaign wants the rateable value thresholds for businesses in those sectors to be raised from £51,000 to £150,000, giving them the chance to access £25,000 grants to help survive the COVID-19.

Mr Ngo explained that five of his eight staff were currently furloughed and that the business – which has a rateable value of £54,000 – faced closure within weeks unless it was able to access more financial assistance.

He said: “Since the outbreak in China, customers have boycotted the business and trade has gone down. Our main trade is office lunch trade, and since lockdown lunch trade has died completely.

“Without a government grant or loan we won’t be able to survive for long. We are doing what we can to try and support our employees, their families and the local business and community.

“But I’m not sure without help how long we can go. Perhaps another few weeks at best. We need some kind of grant as we don’t qualify for any loans at this moment in time.

“We support local people, businesses and offices, offering customers somewhere different to eat over lunch and dinner, and employing local people. We are a family-run business and are not one of the big boys. Businesses like us need the help! It has taken us years of hard work to get to where we are, and we don’t want the lockdown to be the end of us.

To the chancellor Rishi Sunak, I would say: ‘We are a small independent family-run business and it has taken us years to build ourselves. Please don’t undo all our hard work. We need support too’.”