PRESS COVERAGE – SUNDAY 31ST JULY 2022 – THE OBSERVER MAGAZINE
On Wednesday evening 29th June 2022 a group of 8 customers walked in to the restaurant in Swansea Marina. Little did Gigi Gao know but what was about to happen would change her business…and to some extent her life (and that’s no exaggeration knowing what I know, but can’t divulge).
As the customers finished their meal Gigi realised that Chinese TV celebrity Chef Jeremy Pang was amongst the party. It was on photographic confirmation with her business consultant Steve (me), that she identified UK’s top food critic Jay Rayner.
There were some hints that despite the fact that the party was there to record Kitchen Cabinet radio programme for BBC Radio 4 (hosted by Jay Rayner) Jay was so impressed that he decided that evening to write a review on Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese.
Of course this was a double endorsement knowing that an incredibly talented and credible chef such as Jeremy Pang was in attendance and was instrumental in discussing the dishes with the party.
The review was published on Sunday 31st July 2022 in The Observer (Guardian newspaper group) and the rest is history, as they say…
You can find the review here….Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese, Swansea: ‘A fabulous creation’ –
PRESS COVERAGE 2 – SUNDAY 31ST JULY 2022 – WALES ONLINE
Following the wonderful review by top UK food critic Jay Rayner on 31st July, WalesOnline and SwanseaOnline were both quick off the mark in reporting the article and you can read the WalesOnline article here…
PRESS COVERAGE 3 – SUNDAY 7th AUGUST 2022 – WALES ONLINE
Already overwhelmed by the press coverage to date, WalesOnline, through Kathryn Williams, contacted us to do a more in-depth article regarding the woman behind the business. The article was great and published on Sunday 7th August… you can read it here
GIGI GAO’S WINS “THE BEST (ORIENTAL) RESTAURANT IN WALES” FOR THE SECOND TIME IN THREE YEARS!
Gigi and her staff are incredibly proud to announce that they won the accolade of Best (Oriental) Restaurant in Wales at The Golden Chopsticks Awards 2021. These Awards are considered to be the most prestigious and important for the Oriental Cuisine in the UK, and are often referred to as the Oscars of the Oriental Culinary world. The Awards themselves are founded by Fashion and Cookery TV Personality Gok Wan alongside Lucy Mitchel, Managing Director of See Woo Supermarkets and Sarah Lewis, owner of SALT PR company in London.
The Awards are held annually in the London Marriott, Grosvenor Square London, but due to issues surrounding COVID were delayed from 2020 to 27th September 2021. The judges are made up from an array of top culinary experts, headed by Chef Ken Hom OBE and included TV’s Jeremy Pang, Simon Rimmer, food critics and writers and notable culinary professionals. Unfortunately Gigi couldn’t attend the ceremony itself but she was represented on the evening by her Business Consultant, Steve Homer who collected the award on her behalf.
This is the third successive year that Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese has been a Finalist at these awards and the second time the restaurant has been awarded the top accolade. Of course none of this would ever be possible as much of the judging is undertaken by you the customers and our success can only be a reflection of how much you enjoy the Gigi Gao’s Favourite experience.
And the news doesn’t end there… arrangements are being made within the Swansea Marina premises to extend our services (with a twist) to the first floor (upstairs), but before that Gigi will be announcing the launch of a new brand/business…more on that soon.
RE-OPENING OF RESTAURANT 17TH MAY 2021
Dear Customers & Friends,
We are happy to have reopened on 17th May 2021. It’s been our pleasure to have served all our great customers in the past and it will be an equal pleasure for us to continue serving you.
As many will know that the guidance/regulations by Welsh Government under which we may re-open are complex and very restrictive from a venue’s perspective, however in order to continue to offer you great Chinese cuisine we have no alternative other than to follow all the regulations thereby ensuring your safety at all times, or alternatively be closed down. We have therefore laid out the salient details from the 143 page paper which we have had to consider and with which we’d ask you to co-operate, and these are as follows:
1. We may only accommodate on one table a maximum of 6 customers from up to 6 different households. Additionally, we can accommodate an unlimited number of customers on one table providing they are strictly from the same household (NOT an extended household)… i.e. you all live together. It is mandatory that documentary proof is provided. Children under 11 years and/or an official carer are exempt from those numbers.
2. It is mandatory for you to provide your personal details for Track and Trace purposes. The Welsh Government insist that we collect Customer’s name, address, telephone number, and our staff member has to see documentary evidence of your name and where possible address. i.e. ideally a driving licence or a credit/debit card. We would therefore request that all customers please have with them suitable proof of identity. Such identification can also include e.g. an electronic or paper based official document.
3. The restaurant will close at 10.00 p.m.
4. We will continue to site the tables two meters apart, will have hand-sanitisers available, staff will wear masks and masks will need to be worn by customers both entering and leaving the premises or when visiting the bathroom. Masks may be removed when sitting at the table. Please try and remain 2 meters apart from others on other tables while you are visiting the bathroom or leaving the premises. We will continue to operate a one way system where possible, and we have different doors used for entry and exit.
5. Walk-ins are not encouraged by the Welsh Government and they have requested that all attendees pre-book – we have removed the need to pay a table booking fee, but won’t hesitate to reintroduce it if we find that ‘no shows’ are prevalent. So, please use our free online table booking service, and where necessary please advise us of any cancellations, in good time. Thank you.
6. Welsh Government insists on us having ‘effective ventilation’, and on the odd occasions we may have to open the main door to refresh air circulation. That said our existing temperature controlled heating and chill system should be sufficient to keep everyone at a comfortable level.
7. Welsh Government restricts your attendance to 2 hours per table, and we will endeavour to meet this requirement.
Not only are we are instructed to employ “a person controlling entry in respect of the sale or supply of food or drink for consumption on the premises”, but we are being instructed to ‘police’ duties which we believe are not the responsibility of a restauranteur and it’s staff. We do not intend to offend any customer, and we certainly are not seeking confrontation, but it must be recognised that this guidance and these regulations are common throughout all hospitality businesses in Wales, and are not merely being applied by Gigi’s.
Operating under such restrictive regulations will undoubtedly have a devastating financial impact on our business, and not only do we ask you to support us during this incredibly difficult time, but we’d like to remind you that the Office of National Statistics have continually stated that the hospitality industry is responsible for only 2% of COVID-19 cases in the UK and restaurants are amongst the safest places to visit.
Thank you so much for being there for us – we value your continued support.
OUR REASONS FOR INTRODUCING A TABLE BOOKING DEPOSIT FEE SYSTEM
Why The Need For A Table Booking Deposit Fee?
Regrettably, we have been forced this route due to the ever growing, distasteful and inconsiderate, practice of ‘no shows’. Since we first opened the restaurant at 87 Bryn-y-Mor Road over 5 years ago, we have seen the practice of ‘no shows’ grow over the years. It seems that for many it has become normal practice, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, for couples and groups to book more than one venue in order to secure a guaranteed table on a prime evening, and only decide which to attend at the last minute, without notifying the venues they have let down. Often if they do cancel it is last minute when restaurants cannot reallocate the table. In the case of an actual ‘no show’ the table has been held for 15 minutes after the expected booking time.
So What? You Can Fill The ‘No Show’ Covers With Walk-ins!
This is a myth… if it’s an early booking, then maybe yes occasionally we can fill the tables with walk-ins, but that’s no guarantee and we may well have already turned customers away on the strength of the booking by those who ‘no show’. The bigger the group or the number of ‘no shows’ the more difficult it is to reallocate especially late in the evening… customers don’t loiter outside the premises on the half baked chance that there will be a ‘no show’. They move on to another restaurant. If we are close to fully booked without walk-ins we have to employ more staff, and if those whom have booked ‘don’t show’, then we didn’t need to employ those extra staff. In addition we buy-in supplies according to our bookings and anticipated expectancy of how busy we will be and food is prepared in advance to accord with our known bookings. If we have ‘no shows’ then we run at a loss. That loss translates throughout the business and if we can’t pay our bills as a result then our staff lose their jobs, and the business goes under. Yes, it is THAT tight.
Yeah But You Are A Busy Restaurant And A Few No Shows Won’t Affect You?
Every ‘no show’ represents a financial loss to the restaurant. Let us offer some real examples – Example One; in one evening alone 28 people ‘no show’ – we have circa 88 covers and 28 ‘no shows’ represents 32% of our covers that evening. Example Two: St Valentine’s Evening Dinner 2020 (never a good earner for restaurants as tables which usually accommodate 4 are now turned over to couples, so earnings are already down for the evening) – we had so many couples book that we opened the first floor to accommodate them all. In doing so we had to employ more staff to manage the customers on the first floor (circa 40 people that evening). We experienced so many ‘no shows’ (close to 40) that we could have comfortably accommodated all couples on the ground floor and could have kept the first floor shut, and not had to employ extra staff. In addition our kitchen supplies were over the necessary required level for that evening. You can expect changes next St Valentine’s Evening!
On average we will experience 10-12 ‘no shows’ every Friday or Saturday evening…and like many restaurants we operate on very thin margins.
Also, consider this: we normally have circa 88 covers (seats) within the ground floor of the restaurant. Post Lockdown that will reduce by circa 16 covers, maybe 18 covers. Sixteen covers represents approx £400 income (of which some of that figure would represent our profit). We therefore now have less covers and our potential is to earn less income. If we were to allow the disrespectful and ignorant practice of ‘no shows’ to continue at the level we have experienced, then we can reduce our income from circa 12 ‘no shows’ i.e. another say £300. The combined result of reduced covers due to government social distancing directives and ‘no shows’ means that we can be losing circa £700-£900 per night, which we have no way of making up. Unfortunately, as the number of covers reduce in restaurants around the country the number of ‘no shows’ will increase as disrespectful individuals will be even more determined to not lose out on a dining-seat in their favourite restaurant, and other restaurants will be left in the cold with increased ‘no shows’.
Yes, But £10.00 Per Person Deposit Is Extortionate – It’s Far Too Much!
We’d ask, “£10 per person is expensive compared with what?” We know if you visit some high end restaurants you are expected to pay anything up to £250 in FULL and up front. Now it is not unusual to have to pay £50 per head during the week and £100 or £150 per head at weekends in many restaurants around the country. A deposit of £10.00 per person barely covers any of our real loss…it’s a token. Indeed, we know local hairdressers and nail technicians are now having to levy a booking deposit fee of £15.00 per person because they too are suffering from the same ‘no show’ issues. Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a ‘deposit’ redeemable against the cost of your meal. We aren’t charging you an extra fee on top of your meal costs!
Well, If You Are Going To Levy A Table Booking Fee We Won’t Bother Visiting You!
We understand that this approach to booking a table, and having to pay a deposit, may not prove popular with all our customers, but we undertook a survey of customers during May 2020 and asked the very question as to whether people were prepared to pay a Table Booking Deposit Fee – 90% stated yes and 10% said no. Further, Taste Swansea Food Magazine shared the exact same survey and their results were 95% were in favour and 5% were not. We also understand that customers have a choice and may wish to go elsewhere, where they are not subject to a booking fee. It’s interesting that the subject of ‘no shows’ has also crept into other service industries and hairdressers and nail technicians are now levying booking fee deposits of up to £15.00 per head. We expect this practice to become the norm over time in many service industries, as a small percentage of the public continue to abuse businesses. Yes, we believe it is a risky strategy but we have confidence in our customers and we know they are great people who not only understand our dilemma, but are prepared to support us, just as we support them when we are able.
So Why Not Merely Take Our Credit Card Details, Rather Than A Deposit?
As we stated above we really regret having to take this approach as we have fantastic regular customers who are now going to be inconvenienced due to the thoughtlessness and selfishness of others, but this ‘no show’ practice HAS to stop. We have taken years of deliberation over taking a deposit versus merely taking credit card details. Our experience and research has revealed that where credit card details are taken, some ‘no shows’ have deliberately cancelled cards or sought a refund from their card companies on a ‘never had my permission to debit me’ basis. This actually causes us greater administration which in turn costs us money, aside of the loss of table revenue.
One Final Word On This Subject
The hospitality industry is already applying this principle and has been for years. You want a hotel room? You give a deposit or pay in full when you book your room. You wish to attend a limited cover theme night at a restaurant? You pay a deposit or you pay in full regardless if you are a regular or not. You are attending a big party? We usually take a deposit. We understand that for our honest regulars this may be uncomfortable in that you may feel we don’t trust you any longer. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are however ‘potential new customers’ who are spoiling it for our regulars.
CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) STATEMENT
Dear Customers and potential customers
In view of the COVID-19 virus issues throughout the UK, we wish to reassure our customers that at Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese we are doing our very best on a daily basis to ensure that all of our customers and staff members are well looked after and protected.
We are committed to following the guidelines and advice set out by W.H.O and Public Health Wales, ensuring that any changes to such guidelines are implemented here without delay.
It is the priority of Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese that all of our customers and staff members are able to, as always, enjoy a safe, friendly and welcoming environment. As a consequence we would further comment as follows:
We have reduced the number of covers acceptable within the restaurant at any one time, to allow for greater space between occupied tables.
All frequently touched surfaces are cleaned and sanitised regularly throughout the day, specifically:-
all menus are sanitised after use, tables, cutlery/crockery, and common areas such as toilets, toilet door handles locks, seats, wooden boxes for your bill, and other surfaces are sanitized regularly. In addition, all tables, chairs and seats are sanitized after every single use.
We have also provided extra sanitizer stations set up in various places so customers and staff can ensure they have clean hands. Serving staff washing hands or using alcohol hand gel after touching things.
Hand wipes have been, and are always, available on all tables and should be used by customers at all times, especially before touching the menus.
All of our team are fully aware of the current requirements and have been trained to a very high standard of health and safety ensuring that only the highest possible hygiene standards are maintained.
None of our dedicated staff have travelled to, nor from, China or any affected parts of Europe within the past 6 months plus and have had no face-to-face contact with people on mainland China since the outbreak began.
Our policy remains that we will operate with reduced staff levels and not take on ‘new’ staff until such time as we are happy that the virus is no longer a significant risk.
We appreciate that some people who have coughs and high temperatures have stayed at home…and for that we thank you. Let’s beat this virus.
Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese welcomes customers to the restaurant and we will continue to bring you unique dining experiences, maintaining the highest standards for every aspect of our business.
Some of you will have noticed that we have recently resumed our Takeaway Delivery service. This currently extends to SA1 post codes only, but we are experimenting with Drop-Point locations for those customers further afield. Today we open the Drop-Point for Mumbles (details on the website), so you can get the taste of Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese food and/or drinks in the comfort of your own home.
Finally, not only are we proud of the excellent standards that we offer at Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese on a daily basis, but we are sincerely grateful for the loyalty and undying support given to us by our wonderful customers. THANK YOU! The whole team looks forward to seeing you again soon.
P.S. Rest assured at Gigi Gao’s Favourite Authentic Chinese we take this issue VERY seriously indeed!
FOOD HYGIENE RATING – 20th MARCH 2019
We are delighted to be able to report that GIGI GAO’S FAVOURITE AUTHENTIC CHINESE attained a Food Hygiene Rating of FIVE.