New West Hampstead restaurant sees 450 applicants for just 11 jobs amid ‘terrible’ climate for hospitality

Staff at the Luna bar and restaurant in West Hampstead. Picture: Sally Patterson

Staff at the Luna bar and restaurant in West Hampstead. Picture: Sally Patterson - Credit: Archant

A new West Hampstead restaurant was stunned to receive 450 applications for front-of-house jobs within 48 hours as it prepared to open earlier in October.

Luna Gin Bar, which opened October 15, has a staff of 11 – but hundreds of would-be waiters and waitresses applied for jobs, and restaurant bosses felt this was a sign of the trouble the hospitality industry is in as Covid-19 continues to threaten its viability.

General Manager Marcello Toscano told this newspaper: “It’s terrible what’s happening, I feel terrible for the late night industry, where the money doesn’t come in before 11pm.”

READ MORE: HS2 works could ‘make residents’ lives intolerable’ says Camden CouncilRestaurant consultant Gordon Milic, who advises start-ups and has been involved in Luna’s launch, said the surge in applicants was unprecedented, and applications were almost three times higher than he had seen before .

Mr Milic said: “Often people didn’t even ask what the job was, as long as they could get a job. Everybody wants to work 100 hours a week.”

The bar’s opening coincided with warnings from industry figures like Kate Nicholls – chief exec of trade body UK Hospitality – who told the BBC that tougher Tier 2 restrictions will put a further 250,000 London hospitality jobs at risk.

Luna serves Mediterranean food and unusual cocktails – including gin infused with flavours like truffle and cactus gins.

It was initially scheduled to open in June, but this was postponed twice, at least in part as restaurant bosses made sure staff had up-to-date safety training.

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One successful applicant was Golders Green musical theatre graduate Katy Martin. She told the Ham&High she had applied for over 100 jobs since the end of lockdown, including in schools and retail.

She also has a second job as a receptionist

Katy added: “I got lucky, but unfortunately many of my friends are still looking for a job and are struggling. Being performers, we’re very good at hospitality, we’re friendly, and have great customer service.”

“I’m hopeful we can stay open, but this industry will be the first to close, which is so sad, as we’ve invested so much into making customers feel safe.”