Edinburgh restaurant fills tables with skeletons to show how 'dead' business is

Hemingway's in Leith has a spooky window dressing, and it's about more than Halloween.

Published 27th Oct 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

An Edinburgh restaurant has responded to lockdown restrictions by filling the tables with skeletons to show how "dead" business is under the current measures.

Chris Doherty, owner of Hemingway's in Leith, said the decorations were originally bought to celebrate reopening this Halloween weekend.

However, when the First Minister extended the closures in the central belt, he said setting the skeletons up at tables was his own tongue-in-cheek response.

Mr Doherty said: "We were in lockdown but we were told we were going to be able to open on the 26th, which was the Monday before Halloween.

"So I started buying up decorations and I had an idea instead of - so at the moment we've got rid of 50% of our seats for social distancing - I was going to bring back in those seats and put a bunch of skeletons in between so they were having dinner beside you.

"That was the plan - to show how dead everything is in terms of atmosphere. Then obviously everything changed when Nicola Sturgeon said that the lockdown would be extended.

"I didn't want the party stuff to go to waste and had the shop front and thought we'd put on a display to, I guess, get a use out of it. I thought people would get a kick out of the fact that everyone knows business is dead at the moment."

While Mr Doherty hopes he can keep some spirits up with the spooky window display, he said that there is concerns for the industry "this time around".

He said: "The new grant they brought out was that you get £2,800 based on rates. That's not really going to do anything. Thankfully my landlord reduced the rent, so that's helpful. But there's not enough support - certainly this time around.

"We have staff that are going to have issues."

Mr Doherty believes that a two-week full lockdown, such as the one Ireland has brought in, would do more to halt the rapid spread of Covid-19, compared to the "half measures" currently being taken.

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He said: "I understand what Nicola Sturgeon is doing but ... it's a half measure. If she was going to close down, she should close down everything so that it was all ready again for December.

"Maybe something similar to what Ireland has done with a complete lockdown so we could open up completely for December. I think probably that makes more sense."

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