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I keep hearing the phrase ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’ when referring to hospitality’s recovery from operating restrictions, lockdowns, financial crises and staffing issues. 

And Boris Johnson’s autumn and winter plan brought cold comfort to a sector already trying to balance festive preparations against the threat of NHS overwhelm.

How can any business be expected to plough onwards relentlessly into ‘recovery’ when it’s constantly looking over its shoulder? Sure, there’s sunshine breaking through the tree canopy, illuminating patches of successful like-for-like sales figures and expansion plans ramping back up, but where does the end of this pandemic’s ‘forest’ really lie? 

The difference in the lead up to the first Christmas celebrations in two years is that venues are armed with the benefit of hindsight. We all know the potential path trading may take if the government revisits a U-turn of rules once again. To safeguard your business, it’s important to know how your guests are feeling about this year’s festivities.

That’s where Dine Out can help. Our consumer insights specialist Savanta has been delving into the minds, hearts and stomachs(!) of diners ahead of Christmas, and the result is our special Festive Report (page 32). From Covid-confidence to favourite tipples and spend per head, we’ve got all the data you need to put strong plans A, B and C in place this Christmas. 

October marks my final issue as editor of Dine Out. And I’ve put a large hat on just so I can take it off to every wonderful human who has helped me fill these pages, and to all the industry suppliers who have been hit just as hard as operators but continue to support this magazine so that you, our readers, can access positive stories during tough times. 

Consider my swan song, this issue’s lead interview with Deb and Phill Lewis, who head up Welsh business Dusty’s Restaurant Group. They embody everything that I admire about restaurateurs – a willingness to push boundaries and challenge accepted industry norms, and a genuine desire to take care of the environment they operate in (including its inhabitants). If you want to know what I’m going on about, turn to page 10.

Folks, it’s been an honour. Thank you.   

Rosanna Spence