What does a 'digital Christmas' mean for hospitality businesses?

Scottish hospitality businesses are preparing for an alternative festive season to ensure their long-term survival.

Published 26th Oct 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

Following last week's Coronavirus briefing by the Scottish Government in which national clinical director Jason Leitch recommended we prepare for a “digital Christmas” a number of leading Scottish restaurateurs are preparing to cater for smaller numbers dining on their own at home.

Cail Bruich in Glasgow, The Little Chartroom, Noto and Aizle in Edinburgh have all confirmed they will be adapting their normal offering to what could be a longer lasting trend of “restaurant” dining at home for this digital Christmas.

Paul Wedgwood, chef patron of Wedgwood the Restaurant said: “December is normally one of our busiest months, with Christmas parties, family gatherings and tourists visiting the city for Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations.

"This year, we’ve had to think of a whole new business strategy, because our staff and suppliers are relying on us for their jobs, we need to find a way to keep making money so that we can protect everyone we work with.

“We are still in the planning phase however we are definitely going to offer a takeaway festive menu throughout December for the likes of virtual office parties.

"We’re creating a set four course Christmas Day menu and a Hogmanay Tasting menu to celebrate the New Year. Our plan is to go nationwide and at the minute we are just working on the logistics.”

Stuart Ralston owner of Aizle and Noto added: “We have a planning meeting at Noto next week to discuss the festive season.

"Last year, Noto was rammed, we didn’t even offer a Christmas menu.

"We are looking into bespoke hampers and brainstorming different ideas as we want to offer people something unique.

"This is the first time since I opened Aizle and Noto that I have had to think about a festive offering. It’s a big move for us but we need to do it to survive.”

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Shaun McCarron, co-owner of The Little Chartroom, in Edinburgh commented: “As with everything this year’s Christmas at The Little Chartroom will most likely be very different from previous years.

"Whilst we hope to be open across the festive period this can’t be guaranteed and so we have made additional plans to ensure we can continue trading into 2021 and beyond.

"We are planning a special hamper for Christmas day for two, designed for those that can’t spend the day with family or friends due to restrictions.

"Like our current takeaway and delivery offering it will be made to be finished off at home and will include everything you should need for a fantastic restaurant-standard Christmas dinner; half a bottle of Champagne, a bottle of wine, snacks, starter, turkey with all the trimmings and a pudding all done Little Chartroom style.

"It’s amazing to think that this just wasn’t a “thing” until 2020.

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"It’s the first time we’ve offered a more traditional Christmas meal and who knows, it could be a trend that’s here to stay. We hope to have the final menu available on our website in the coming week.”

The Little Chartroom is also considering offering meal packs for one following a number of enquiries for virtual Zoom office parties.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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