A restaurant in North Queensferry is providing a helping hand to parents who are homeschooling by offering lockdown school lunches.
The Wee Restaurant, which is based in the village’s Main Street, won’t make a penny from their initiative as they are providing meals for cost price as a helping hand for mums and dads juggling working from home, looking after their children and schooling their youngsters.
Owners of the eatery, Craig and Vikki Wood, have launched the initiative for North Queensferry residents only.
But they have pledged to extend it to other areas should the project prove successful – and invited other restaurants to take on the idea too if they want to help out in their own communities.
Juggling work and lessons
Vikki said: “When we were advised that children were to be homeschooled for a little bit that was fine, but when we heard they were going to be homeschooled for longer I began to think of my friends who have children and are trying to work from home and I thought how can we help people in our local area who are going to have to try and juggle quickly feeding their child so they can get back to lessons.
“They maybe have Zoom calls etc., maybe they’re not even looking after their children – their parents could be.
“I wondered what I could do and I originally thought of meals like chilli con carne, but when I looked at the pricing I realised I just can’t do it for as cheap as a school lunch would be as I wouldn’t be doing it in the same bulk like the councils are.
“I thought they probably need something hot, something nutritious and then I thought – soup and a sandwich.
“That was my idea, something that can be delivered in our local village. I will put it in a soup cup so it will arrive hot, they’ll get a sandwich and they can add on whether they want to add a muffin or a piece of fruit.
“Between 12.15 and 1.15 I will go out – we are quite a small village with only 2,500 people, so there are kids, but not thousands of kids in the village – and I will deliver that. Quick thing, the doorbell goes, there’s your plate, there’s your spoon and you probably don’t even need a plate you can take it out of the cup, and that’s a child fed.
“It’s one less thing to worry about while you’re trying to work from and teach from home.”
— The Wee Restaurant (@weerestaurant) January 6, 2021
Vikki added that adults in the village who are busily working from home have also been interested in a school lunch.
She continued: “Quite a lot of people who are working from home, who are on their own, also said they were quite interested if they were Zooming from 9 to 5 and if the doorbell goes they can quickly answer it and have that as well.
“I have said it won’t be Le Cordon Bleu, lovely sandwiches like goat’s cheese and rocket as it’s for children – it will be a children’s kind of menu marginally blander than what you might want as an adult with fewer bits in it!
“We want to be helpful for as long as we can manage. We have had lots of different initiatives to keep the restaurant open, which we have done right from March, but we thought ‘what can we do that’s not necessarily making us any money but can be of help to others?’, and that’s what we came up with.
“We are in touch with a lot of other restaurants so on social media I have encouraged others to replicate this. If every local restaurant did school lunches it would help parents immensely.”
Vikki on her last delivery of the year.
Posted by The Wee Restaurant on Thursday, December 31, 2020
Diversification is key
While there has been sadness for Vikki and Craig who have lost one of their businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, they have diversified during these particularly tough times for hospitality.
“We have started a wee delivery takeaway service which has been running since March. We had two restaurants, one in Edinburgh and one here. Sadly the one in Edinburgh closed, it didn’t make it, but we still have the one in North Queensferry,” revealed Vikki.
“People order all week and then we deliver or they can pick up on a Friday. That’s cold and all they have to do is reheat it at home. We do that every week and we have been doing that for 42 weeks now.
“When we were open we were doing roast beef lunches and we also did a lobster creel takeaway where you pre-ordered and they came in in an hour’s slot – people picked them up and they could have a hot lobster and chips on the beach or in their car and that was good.
“We have reintroduced that for Valentine’s Day and we have had a lot of orders for that already. As many people are booking then things change and they have to reorganise their celebration, but with this it doesn’t really matter if the restaurant is open that can still go ahead as a takeaway. We are doing a three-course meal with a bottle of Champagne on Valentine’s Day, too.”
DO SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT THIS VALENTINE'S DAYTHE WEBPAGE IS NOW LIVE FOR PRE ORDERING YOUR LOBSTER CREEL…
Thinking out of the box
Vikki says it is absolutely vital for restaurants to look at other ways of operating to survive, particularly as we have entered another lockdown.
“I think if you don’t want to be crippled with lifelong debt when we come out of this you really are going to have to think out of the box and think forward instead of being bitter about it all,” she continued.
“Covid-19 is out of our hands but trying to diversify isn’t so if we can do that we will do that. It’s a real rollercoaster, but we do get a lot of support.
“The support from the government isn’t sufficient so we have to rely on ourselves and if we are doing something positive then it keeps us going. If we sit on our backside and let it wash over us, we could easily become depressed, so we want to keep the positivity going and help other people.”
That’s the first deliveries been delivered to parents in North Queensferry of the #LockdownSchoolLunches. Soup & a Sarnie.
4 hours to go until #WeeDeliveries closes for ordering for this week. https://t.co/nHDr6wyUVK pic.twitter.com/3GuEevKsGG
— The Wee Restaurant (@weerestaurant) January 6, 2021
Chef Craig, who has worked in some of the country’s most respected kitchens including Restaurant Martin Wishart and the Crinan Hotel, was voted Chef of the Year at the CIS Excellence Awards.
A hands-on chef/proprietor, the ethos employed by Craig and Vikki is simple – to serve simple, good food and wine in a relaxed atmosphere. They are passionate about using the best ingredients and offering top-class service in The Wee Restaurant.
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