Hospitality & Tourism

Published: April 22, 2020 | Updated: April 22, 2020

New group connecting hospitality businesses across area during crisis gets off to flying start

Andy Lennox, MD and Founder of Zim Braai, Owner of Lion Consultancy, and Founder of The Wonky Table.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A new group connecting hospitality businesses across the BCP conurbation and acting as one voice during the pandemic crisis has hit the ground running.

More than 80 hospitality owners and operators representing over 140 venues have so far joined The Wonky Table and the number is growing every day.

The communications platform is the idea of award-winning restauranteur Andy Lennox, Managing Director and Founder of Zim Braai and owner of Lion Consultancy.

It has pro bono support from accountants, solicitors and business leaders and is publishing up to date advice and support for members through its dedicated Facebook Group.

The extension of the lockdown has cast further doubt on when hotels, bars, restaurants and leisure businesses will be able to open their doors in 2020.

Some fear there may not be a summer season this year at all.

Hospitality owners and operators are becoming increasingly reliant on the government’s financial support.

Andy said that with tourism being one of the main revenue streams in Bournemouth and across the south, it was vital that business owners were able to access the support they desperately need to survive.

He added: “Staying connected is more important than ever.

“I only set the group up to share some thoughts back in March but it is just getting bigger and bigger.

“We now want to make public our existence with all those in the hospitality industry in the hope that we can unite to share knowledge, resources and advice.

“The next step is getting ready – and making sure everyone is ready – for post-C19.

“Ultimately, if there has ever been a time for us to come together, it is now.”

The mission statement for the group, which covers Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole and Wimborne, includes:

  • Working to keep everyone together through Covid-19 and post-C19.
  • Outreach for hospitality businesses for support, mentoring, triage or advice during the Covid-19 crisis and post-C19.
  • No nonsense lobbying for hospitality businesses in the BCP conurbation for further localised support financially, through marketing and infrastructure plans post-C19.
  • Keeping everyone informed of best practice, most up to date information and latest advice during the crisis and beyond.
  • Yielding results through numbers. Lobbying power through one unified voice across the conurbation.

Andy said: “We, as hospitality business owners, are fighting day in day out with continuity plans, communicating as best we can with our teams, furloughed employees, suppliers and associates during a time when we’re having to learn and adapt as we go, no matter how established we are.

“If there was ever something that I as a young entrepreneur sought after, it was a guiding hand.

“I hope that The Wonky Table can become one such hand and contribute in a small way to the support effort.”

Andy added that The Wonky Table provided live and responsive feedback from expert participants to ensure the information flow was seamless and up to date.

The group welcomes all owners of restaurants, bars, hotels and other leisure and events businesses to join.

Click here to access the Facebook page.

  • Why name the group The Wonky Table? Andy said: “Every restaurant has one Wonky Table!”