A POPULAR Bournemouth restaurant group ran a drive-through service at the weekend in an attempt to recoup some income in the coronavirus crisis.

Urban Guild operated a contactless service for customers who booked in advance to collect their meals from its Urban Beach hotel at Boscombe.

But founder Mark Cribb warned that the outlook was still serious for the business and that “80 per cent of the industry” could go under without more help from the government and landlords.

While restaurants are closed, takeaways are allowed to open. Urban Beach offered a limited menu on Friday and Saturday and saw 137 customers collecting meals.

Mr Cribb said: “The two evenings went exceptionally well with lots of customers coming to see us who have been missing us for the past six weeks.

“Some were quite emotional about seeing our team and helpers in masks outside the hotel.

“People generally seemed very grateful that they could pop out and with minimal fuss and no human contact, without even having to get out of the car, could pick up some lovely restaurant-style food.

“Fresh cod and chips, steak and Eight Arch Ale pie and West Country beef burger were the three most popular items.”

He saluted the suppliers who had made the service possible. “There are suppliers I owe thousands of pounds to who would be within their rights to refuse to deliver to us. They want to deliver even though we owe them money,” he said.

“The community spirit has been exceptional. I’ve never not paid a supplier in the 15 years I’ve been operating. I guess they appreciate that and they know we want to pay them.”

Mr Cribb, who also runs Urban Reef and Urban Gardens, is among the 200 members of the local group Wonky Table, which is calling for more aid for the sector. The group’s requests include a cut in VAT and a flexible furlough scheme, so that the industry does not have to put all its staff back on the payroll at once.

“We’ll either be bringing back a few members of our team, in which case most people would end up without jobs, or we’re going to need ongoing support,” said Mr Cribb.

It has been suggested that restaurants and pubs may reopen at 50 per cent capacity to allow social distancing.

“There’s a three to eight per cent profit margin in the industry. You can’t take out 50 per cent of your seats and 50 per cent of your revenue – the model doesn’t work,” said Mr Cribb.

“At the moment, I expect to be able to bring back 30-40 per cent of my team if we get told to do it on one day,” he added.

He warned that “as many as 80 per cent of the industry could go under” if restaurants had to pay their full rent and staff costs on drastically reduced income.