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Restaurant Rescue project launched by Cape winemakers

Published:  17 July, 2020

A new initiative urging wine estates to adopt a restaurant has been launched in Cape Town in response to the blow of the renewed government ban on drinking.

The #RestaurantRescueProject has been launched by Grub & Vine chef-patron Matt Manning and Radford Dale winery managing director Alex Dale, encouraging wineries and other South African businesses to support restaurants to help save jobs and outlets.

South Africa’s restaurant industry fast mobilised following the renewed 9pm curfew and ban on domestic sales of alcoholic drinks, initially with a social media campaign.

Employees and owners sought to raise awareness of the industry’s predicament, with many posting black and white pictures of staff holding placards with the number of jobs under threat and the hashtag #jobssavelives.

Following a tumultuous lockdown period which saw a ban on drinking and wine exports in the spring (later reversed), South Africa’s collective wine trade had thought the worst was over as restaurants and bars opened again and the country returned to some semblance of normal life.

“Despite the limitations on alcohol sales - which are responsible for a significant portion of our revenue - we were thrilled to be able to reopen our doors last week after being closed for almost four months,” said Manning.

“We thought we’d finally seen a turning point and that things would start to improve, but sadly it looks like we were wrong.”

Manning added that should the ban continue for another few weeks, many would not have a business to return to.

On the initiative, Dale added: “Restaurants and gastronomy are part of the very fabric of Cape Town, and this world-class dynamism is dying a rapid death. The virus has drawn strong parallels with the hospitality industry: just as Covid-19 robs the afflicted of air, so government’s latest measures to curb it are depriving the sector of oxygen. We need to move quickly, collaboratively and with intention, if we are to see it survive.”

The pair are offering a virtual fine dining and wine gift voucher scheme for R1,400, which includes delivery of a complimentary case of Radford Dale wine when the ban is lifted, while encouraging others to partner up with restaurants and run similar initiatives.