Food for thought

With the current changes and uncertainties about how our sector is going to be able to trade now and in the coming months, you will be contingency planning. To help you leave no stone unturned, here is a simple guide to the new tiers and some of the options available now.

The rules & restrictions  

First things first, these are the key rules and restrictions, you can read about all of them inc. masks, track & trace, social distancing etc in our guide here 

If you are in a tier 1 – Medium alert area:  

  • You are able to welcome customers indoors and outdoors in line with the rule of six  
  • The 10pm curfew is in place 
  • Table service still stands if you are a licensed premises 
  • You can offer delivery, takeaway or click & collect  
  • You can offer delivery, takeaway or click & collect after 10pm  

Are you taking advantage of the fact that you can have mixed household customers indoors & outdoors? Are you drumming up more customers by shouting about what you are doing and getting customers to share it too?   

Look at delivery, click + collection and takeaway options to bolster your turnover, get plans in motion for the rest of the winter period – think online systems, delivery options and the Christmas present market.  

Are you able to extend your opening times to start earlier? Can you put a time limit on each customer experience?  

To protect your covers and turnover, can you take bookings and deposits?  

Are your payment options efficient? Technical problems cause delays, stress and unhappy customers.  

Are your team giving your customers a great experience still – an experience that will make people want to come back and talk to others about them? 

If you are in a tier 2 – High alert area:  

  • Only members of the same household or support bubble can socialise indoors – the rule of six applies  
  • The rule of six applies to all outdoor socialising so people who aren’t from the same household or support bubble can meet outdoors 
  • The 10pm curfew stands  
  • Table service stands if you are a licensed premises  
  • You can offer delivery, takeaway or click & collect  
  • You can offer delivery, takeaway or click & collect after 10pm  

If you are in a tier 3 – Very high alert area:  

  • If you are a pub or a bar, you can stay open if you operate as if you were a restaurant – which means serving substantial meals, like a main lunchtime or evening meal. You may only serve alcohol as part of such a meal.  

NCASS are currently gaining clarification on this and pushing for events & mobile caterers to be able to be the substantial meal offering in wet led pubs and bars.  

  • Only members of the same household or support bubble can meet indoors or outdoors – the rule of six applies  
  • You can offer delivery, takeaway or click & collect  
  • You can offer delivery, takeaway or click & collect after 10pm 
  • The 10pm curfew stands  

Ideas & Inspiration

Delivery and/or Collections:  

If you haven’t already got a delivery or collection option in place, look in to whether this would work for your business. You don’t necessarily have to go with one of the big three aggregators, many of our members have set up an in-house service by adding an ecommerce element to their website, Facebook Marketplace, telephone / txt service – giving them control of the number of orders and how to manage them. There are also online platforms on that are part of NCASS Rewards, where, as a member you can get a deal such as Slurp.  

We have shared lots of examples of how members have changed their model to delivery / collection as well as providing resources to support this way of working. More information can be found below:  

Inspiration from some of our members:


  • If you are offering alcohol as delivery, click & collect or takeaway – check your premises licence.  
  • There are insurance implications if you are using your car / van for deliveries or asking your staff to use theirs. Speak to us or call in to speak to our insurance partner about this. 
  • You must pay close attention to making sure you inform your customers about allergens – without face to face interaction this needs to be even more clear than ever before.   

Taking your business outside  

If you have outdoor space or have taken advantage of the simplification of the rules around pavement licenses, this will give you more capacity and let you accommodate people who don’t live together or are in a social bubble if you are in the medium or high tiers at the moment.  

Although this is an expense that people weren’t expecting, councils did provide grants for adapting to outside hospitality earlier in the pandemic, it may be worth seeing if your Local Authority are still issuing grants for this. If not, investing in your outdoor space could be worth doing if we are to see outdoor spaces as a way of adapting to the current rules. This could be the new normal for quite some time, see it as an investment and make it part of your customer experience. 

Did you know – NCASS are working on finding discounts and deals for outdoor structures, heating and furniture and will update you with the details of this as soon as possible.  

Being truly mobile:  

Did you start operating a delivery or takeaway model earlier in the pandemic? Operating on private land such a pub car parks or any private space could be a viable option. The Local Government Association provided guidance to LAs on our behalf earlier this year on offering a flexible approach to mobile catering, which can be found here.

Members have been trading on private land such as pubs, green space, car parks, trading estates etc as well as moving sites around a locality. Speak to your LA, landlords and private landowners about potential sites.  

You could even look to collaborate and have a pop up in another business’ premises, this is happening more and more and could help you to grow your customer base and of course, support your turnover.  

Shout about and share what you do:  

There has never been a more important time than now to grow your customer base and we have seen traders flourishing off local custom because they have a great following on socials. Are you sharing all the amazing things you do across your social platforms and your website? Your online community is key to getting the most out of your business now, tell your story, promote your products, get people to share and recommend you, drum up some FOMO, get testimonials and reviews from your customers – whatever you can do to put your stamp on the independent scene right now will pay dividends now and further down the line.  

Planning ahead 

As we see Christmas and the new year (please 2021 be a good year!), have you thought about how your business could create a special experience for your customers? The online retail sector is being used more by F&B independents making their products stand out in the sector – could you sell merchandise, recipe kits, your specialist drinks, food boxes or even vouchers online to create some financial security amongst all the challenges?  

As we will inevitably see more changes over the coming months, we need to work together, share examples of smart ideas that you, our members, are delivering right now. If would like us to promote what you are doing and inspire other businesses, please get in touch with [email protected].  

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