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Caribbean diner supports community and urges locals to order takeaways direct

On the menu - and available as a takeaway
On the menu - and available as a takeaway

As well as being open for takeaways, Caribbean restaurant Rock of Virtue is supporting the vulnerable, isolated and elderly in Cambridge by providing free meals throughout the week during lockdown. The restaurant, located at 60 Cherry Hinton Road, is preparing more than 50 portions of soups each day which are then distributed by The C3 Church, an evangelical church based in Bury St Edmunds.

At the same time the family-owned diner, managed by Tanisha Broady and run with the help of her cousins, children and her church, City of David on Cherry Hinton Road, is urging people to think about how people order their food online so that the restaurant doesn’t lose a large chunk to food aggregators such as JustEat, who take 15-20 per cent of the cost of your order.

It’s been a learning curve for Tanisha, who has started using Flipdish, an online ordering system for restaurants and takeaways which takes 7 per cent of each order. Initially, the enforced lockdown caused concern for the family-run business.

Rock of Virtue NEW Caribbean food (33686803)
Rock of Virtue NEW Caribbean food (33686803)

“At first we had to close,” Tanisha explains. “There was so much to think about under pressure so I needed a break to consider a plan for getting through lockdown.”

After a week, she reopened by offering takeaway food - currently mainly traditional Caribbean fare but also jacket potatoes and baguettes - to local customers via its own website created with Flipdish. Customers can pre-order and collect, or ask for the delivery service.

“Since reopening, there has been a really positive response from the community,” she says. “We’re really proud that we’re able to give something back to those that need it most across Cambridge during these difficult times. Everyone needs to do their bit.

“The public don’t quite realise how much money food delivery companies like Just Eat and Deliveroo take from independent restaurants. They take a ridiculous cut. If the food scene in Cambridge is to remain vibrant and diverse after lockdown, independent restaurants need the support from the public and it will make a huge difference if they can order direct from their websites.”

Flipdish was launched in Dublin by founders (and brothers) Conor and James McCarthy. Today it is a global business with more than 1,500 customers in 12 countries generating order revenues in excess of €40m. UK customers include Subway.

CEO Conor McCarthy said: “As people stay at home to do their bit to tackle the coronavirus, many people in Cambridge are ordering takeaways. Not only are they protecting themselves and the NHS, they are helping to keep restaurants alive. Everyone who can should support their local favourites and the best way to do so is by ordering direct rather than through marketplaces.

“We’ve been working with a number of customers over the last few days, getting them set up with their own websites and apps in a matter of hours. Building an online delivery service could help restaurants stay afloat during the crisis, and also rebuild their balance sheets in the long term.”

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