Returning to normal ‘a big challenge’, says Mersey restaurateur 

Candice Fonseca, founder of Liverpool restaurant and deli business Delifonseca, says the hospitality sector ‘cannot just return to normal overnight’ on July 19. Tony McDonough reports

Candice Fonseca
Candice Fonseca, founder of Delifonseca in Liverpool


One of Liverpool’s best know restaurants and food halls, Delifonseca has spoken about the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and how going “back to normal overnight” isn’t a viable option.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the final stage of England’s exit out of COVID-19 lockdown would go ahead as planned on July 19. This means an end to social distancing, compulsory face masks and capacity limits at public venues.

This is goods news for hospitality venues such as bars and restaurants as well as shops. But according to Delifonseca founder and owner, Candice Fonseca, returning to pre-pandemic normality is not as straightforward as some may imagine, especially as many customers will still feel nervous about being in crowds again.

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Based on Liverpool’s waterfront, just outside the city centre, Delifonseca comprises the Delifonseca Dockside restaurant, its food hall and butchers, as well as its online shop and outside catering services.

Candice said: “Following the Prime Minister’s announcement the hospitality industry still has a lot to digest, and planning will be crucial. With many of the restrictions set to be lifted on July 19, it’s now down to us as restaurant owners to decide how we manage the situation in the best interests of our customers, our teams and our local community.

“Although it’s been a welcome sight to have diners back inside, social distancing and the rule of six has been a challenge. It means we can’t accommodate full capacity and we believe that to some degree, we should maintain this set up for a little while longer whatever the outcome for ‘freedom day’. 

“We appreciate that customers still feel anxious and going ‘back to normal’ overnight just simply isn’t a viable option. Our main priority to make people feel relaxed and comfortable while they’re eating with us or shopping in our food hall and if that means we need to continue to be cautious for the time being then it’s something that we’re willing to do.”

Interior of the extended Delifonseca Dockside in Liverpool
Delifonseca food hall in Liverpool


After July 19, Delifonseca will not insist on customers wearing face masks but Candice add it will continue to encourage them to do so. However, she believes masks have negatively impacted the who customer experience.

She explained: “The age old saying of ‘service with a smile’ is a little lost behind a mask and we do miss that friendly interaction with diners – being able to share a joke or simply communicate effectively is much more difficult with PPE involved.

“What we are keen to hear more on is guidance on the continued use of the NHS Track and Trace app and whether that will be enforced alongside rules around self-isolation. We worry for the industry as a whole as we’ve seen the UK’s hospitality workforce, many of whom are young, being constantly put into isolation.

“Many businesses simply can’t accommodate the current demand with this in mind as we face the risk of staff members becoming unavailable without notice.

“We believe in doing the responsible thing and will always put safety before anything else and for that reason, we’ll be easing our way back to normality at a pace that is comfortable, taking into consideration the feedback of our team and customers.”

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