Restaurant founder 'relieved' to serve customers indoors from May 17

Founder of Mare Street's Caldera Restaurant, Arya Razi.

Founder of Mare Street's Caldera Restaurant, Arya Razi. - Credit: Caldera Restaurant

As Hackney eateries and pubs prepare to reopen for indoor dining on May 17, a local restaurateur says challenges still await, with the upcoming return of business rates in June.  

Nevertheless, the founder of Mare Street's Caldera Restaurant, Arya Razi, is "excited and relieved" to serve customers indoors. 

He said: "We’ve been amazed and pleased with the number of people who have booked and dined with us throughout this time, either through delivery or in our outside spaces. 

"It has been a challenging time but we are very much looking forward to seeing guests inside."

The founder of the independent Mexican-inspired restaurant and bar added that despite being fortunate to have an outside dining area, "the weather has not always been kind". He expects people will appreciate "eating good food indoors, without having to brave the wind and rain". 

Step 3 of the governments "roadmap" out of lockdown was given the go ahead by the Prime Minster on May 10.

The news means from May 17, Hackney will see the return of indoor socialising and dining, with residents also being granted permission to hug, meet inside homes in groups of six or two households and go on holiday to countries on the government's green list. 

This means restaurants like Caldera can "get close to normal business operations", says Arya, as outdoor seating saw his establishment turned "inside out".

Caldera Restaurant on Hackney's Mare Street.

Caldera is planning a range of diverse events for customers which support local artists such as working with DJs on regular music and open mic nights as well as an upcoming Mezcal tasting event. - Credit: Caldera Restaurant

He says lockdown easing has been easier this year compared to the "sudden return" with the government's Eat Out To Help Out scheme in August 2020.

Mr Razi added: "It has allowed us to grow our team and spend time on training [but] the challenges for the industry still await with the re-introduction of business rates and 20 per cent VAT rates."

Due to an extended business rates holiday, businesses will not have to pay rates until the end of June and, from July 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, there will be a 66pc rates discount for eligible businesses. 
A one-off top-up grant worth up to £9,000 per property was also set to help businesses until spring, along with other forms of government support however, it remains a worry for many businesses not able to reopen or running on limited capacity due to Covid restrictions. 

Book a table at