Italian restaurant in Mirfield looking to reinvent itself as home dining service

An Italian restaurant chain is to reinvent itself as a home dining service due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 12:30 pm

Capri has restaurants in Horbury Bridge, Wakefield, Mirfield and Headingley, Leeds.

It opened its newest restaurant Capri at Mirfield after an 18-month build costing £1.4 million.

The much-awaited restaurant finally opened its doors five days before lockdown in March meaning the new business had to shut almost immediately.

Paymen Karimi behind the counter at the home dining takeaway at Capri in Mirfield.

The four restaurants are open again with reduced capacity and many older customers are refusing to come out, preferring to order from the restaurant’s home delivery service instead.

Now the business, run by former Dewsbury nightclub boss Paymen Karimi, is refocusing to concentrate on home dining.

“We have managed to come through the crisis but everything has changed,” said Paymen.

“The Mirfield restaurant opened just five days before lockdown. We had borrowed a lot of money from our investors and the bank but we survived.

“Our turnover is not going to be what it was going to be. We have a brand new function room that hasn’t even been used for half-a-day. That’s a massive loss to us.

“We have always offered home dining and this has grown for us. People are saying they are scared of coming out.

“They are ordering from us and we are asking them when they are coming back to the restaurant. They say ‘we are 70-plus, we don’t want to be coming out at the moment.’”

Paymen had plans to open another two restaurants in Newmillerdam, near Wakefield, and in Doncaster but those have been put on hold.

Home dining is now the future and a new home dining kitchen will be opened at the Woodkirk Valley Country Club in Leeds Road, Woodkirk, near Dewsbury, probably in November.

Paymen is also looking to expand into Brighouse and out towards Holmfirth and aims to have 15 outlets eventually.

Paymen has invested heavily in PPE for staff and special precautions to keep customers safe.

He has gone beyond Government guidelines and vacuum packs cutlery, glasses and the salt and pepper which diners open themselves. Paper cloths are also used.

“My staff have asked me why we are spending all this extra money when we don’t have to but I want my customers to be safe,” said Paymen.

The Mirfield restaurant’s capacity has had to be reduced from 185 covers to just 95 for social distancing.

The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August proved a big boost and Paymen found it ironic that a £10 a head discount was enough to persuade people to put Covid fears aside and dine out. “We had people queuing but they needed to pre-book,” he said.

The scheme helped the hospitality sector hugely, he added, but he would have preferred the Government’s hand out to benefit struggling businesses in other sectors as well.

The recently-introduced Rule of Six also hit trade again with the restaurants having to cancel bookings for larger groups.

Home dining is where it’s at for Capri now and that was plainly illustrated the other Saturday night when the opening Premier League game between Liverpool and Leeds United was screened live on TV.

“That night we had lots of big orders - £120, £190 and so on - people were having parties at home. This is how life has changed.

“You won’t get 40,000 people going to football matches right now but they still want to watch the matches and have good food,” he said. “That’s why we have decided to take this opportunity.”