- Owner Jeremy Joseph hits back at those mocking McDonalds by saying they are allowing a range of meals for a range of budgets.
Britain’s most famous LGBT+ bar and club brand – G-A-Y – has found a way to re-open at least two of its venues, despite new COVID rules.
The UK government’s new guidelines prevent bars from opening in almost all areas of England unless they serve a ‘substantial meal’.
Over the weekend a debate has raged in the media over whether the traditional English pub snack of a scotch egg – an egg wrapped in sausage and breadcrumbs and deep fried – counts as a ‘substantial meal’ with the answer even evading government ministers.
But now G-A-Y has found a way to open without running its own kitchen – simply by allowing customers to order takeaways.
Its announcement has prompted jokes on social media after it approved McDonald’s as one of the takeaway partners it allows.
However speaking to GSN, G-A-Y owner Jeremy Joseph hit back at the food snobs, telling them they could ‘fuck off’.
He said: ‘We’ve teamed up with different restaurants, offering different foods with different price ranges.
‘The reason we did it is we wanted to make sure this was affordable for everybody.
‘There are students and unemployed people who have suffered during this. They need to get out of the house, they need to spend time with their friends again and this makes sure everyone can afford it.’
‘Helping out local businesses’
Alongside McDonald’s, Joseph has made agreements with two local restaurants in Soho, London. One is Dozo – an upmarket Japanese restaurant near G-A-Y Bar. The second is Lamis Grill, a kebab takeaway near G-A-Y Late.
Meanwhile he hopes to add a pizza restaurant to the roster.
And he said: ‘This way we are helping out local businesses who are suffering at the same time.
‘Even McDonald’s is a franchise which is owned by individuals. The chain is a multi-million international business but the individual restaurants are privately owned. And they are suffering as well.’
Moreover, while he says eating out will help out local restaurants and punters’ mental health, his scheme is also vital for G-A-Y.
Joseph told GSN he is ‘fighting for survival’. His business has faced £850,000 in bills since March and is due to pay rent bills of £320,000 in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile he insists his work-around is within the rules and in the spirit of the regulations to keep people safe:
‘At the end of the day, I don’t see the difference between coming into G-A-Y Bar and sitting at a table and going into the restaurant. We have followed the guidelines the whole way through. I am following the guidelines now.’
Challenging the government
Joseph has been a keen critic of the UK government’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic all year.
As the crisis first hit Britain, he criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for telling people to avoid venues without formally forcing them to close.
At the time he said ‘Boris Johnson, you are a c**t’ and argued he ‘should look after businesses as long as they look after their staff’.
Then in October he launched a legal challenge to the government’s 10pm curfew on venues.
Johnson claimed the rule was to combat coronavirus. But Joseph, like many in the hospitality industry, argued it ‘makes absolutely no sense’ and was even counterproductive.
Now Joseph says more pubs and bars without their own kitchens should follow his lead.
Joseph said the new takeaway scheme will operate in G-A-Y Bar and G-A-Y Late. He is waiting to confirm the rules for his other London venue, Heaven.
Meanwhile the branch of G-A-Y in Manchester will remain closed as the city is the toughest tier of England’s local lockdown system.