By Dave Hunter
AN East Lothian operator is keeping his community fed during the COVID-19 pandemic through partnering with local charities and the launch of a food delivery service.
Graham Blaikie, owner of the Mercat Grill in Whitecraig, near Musselburgh, is working with his local Rotary Club to provide people in need with soup and sandwiches and has also been supplying pizzas free of charge to staff at hospitals in the area. And the venue’s new delivery service has allowed it to continue to support the nearby East Lothian Foodbank – of which it is a long-time backer.
From Thursday to Sunday the Mercat’s delivery service allows customers to have food and drink delivered to their doorstep. They are also able to donate spare tins of food, which can be collected when their order is dropped off.
Blaikie then matches those donations with food he buys from the local wholesaler and takes everything to the food bank. He told SLTN that this week the donation was around £250-worth of food.
Currently all food orders are being taken by phone but Blaikie is working with his EPOS provider to introduce an online ordering system, which should be up and running soon.
Blaikie said the new delivery service has gone down a storm with the local community.
“People are showing their support and a lot of the comments when people phone up are that it’s great that we’re doing this,” he said.
“It’s a treat that they look forward to once a week. Because a lot of them are getting cabin fever.”
And he reckoned that, in addition to providing much-needed support to the community, the venue’s charity work will stand it in good stead when things begin to return to normal in the future.
He said: “I do think at the end of this people will remember who the good guys are.
“And I think that if you do something that keeps you out there and keeps people remembering you then in three months’ time it won’t take you as long to restart your business.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making much money, really. But it’s the big picture, that’s the way I look at it.”