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How a town restaurant is feeding the NHS and preparing for life after lockdown

PUBLISHED: 13:15 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:15 30 April 2020

A family restaurant in Bungay which has been regularly delivering hundred of meals to local hospitals is gearing up for life after lockdown. Photo: Smokey Joe's

A family restaurant in Bungay which has been regularly delivering hundred of meals to local hospitals is gearing up for life after lockdown. Photo: Smokey Joe's

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A family restaurant in Bungay which has been regularly delivering hundred of meals to local hospitals is gearing up for life after lockdown.

A takeout box for NHS staff with a thank you note. Photo: Smokey Joe'sA takeout box for NHS staff with a thank you note. Photo: Smokey Joe's

Smokey Joe’s in Ditchingham, an American bar and grill run by a husband and wife and their daughter, have taken at least 50 burger meals to Norfolk and Suffollk hospitals every two weeks since lockdown began alongside an assortment of cakes.

Nigel and Wendy Flatt were in Egypt when pubs and restaurants were forced to close. Nigel said: “Luckily we got an early flight home and were able to turn the restaurant into a takeout and delivery service immediately.

“It’s been going well - there is still demand and our overheads have been cut so realised we could afford to do some more.”

READ MORE: Restaurants, school, and health care provider team up to feed frontline NHS heroes

A protoytpe screen barrier made by Smokey Joe's for life after lockdown. Photo: Smokey Joe'sA protoytpe screen barrier made by Smokey Joe's for life after lockdown. Photo: Smokey Joe's

The couple, who have been organising deliveries and donations to hospitals with their 15-year-old daughter Alice, say they have been inspired by their eldest daughter Abby, a newly qualified nurse who began working as an A&E nurse in London in March.

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“She is so busy, and we appreciate how much she does and all NHS staff. It’s why we wanted to support those in our nearest hospitals,” Mr Flatt said.

Alongside the fortnightly donations of burger meals, Mr and Mrs Flatt are making sure local families with NHS staff and other key workers near Ditchingham are being treated to dinners.

Mr Flatt said: “They love it, customers tell use people they know in the NHS, and we have been sending them free meals as a little thank you. This week we took six meals to Beccles hospital, and we will soon cook for Panel Graphic in Loddon to thank them for making so many PPE visors”.

READ MORE: Family-run firm producing 100,000 protective visors for key workers

The restaurateurs say they were lucky to be ahead of the curve for getting takeouts and deliveries ready, and are now trying to prepare for life after lockdown.

“We know the food industry will change beyond recognition when we re-open, so we’re thinking about what we can do now to prepare,” Mr Flatt said.

“I have already designed a prototype barrier screen to go between tables so people know we are being proactive,” he added.


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