Business & Entrepreneurs

‘We closed for coronavirus and then had a break-in – but I won’t let it get me down’

By Ian Marland at

Understatement. Root Candy has not had the most auspicious of openings.

The new vegan-vegetarian restaurant on Hyndland Street only opened at the beginning of March.

A few weeks later on and its doors are shut with no indication when they might reopen.

Neon sign

Root Candy opened at the beginning of March. Photo: Connor McEwan

The business is far from alone in its fate, of course, but co-owner Lisa Rennie is refusing to let the situation get her down.

And that is despite suffering a break-in the night after the restaurant closed up under the coronavirus restrictions.

Thieves stole an empty till and caused damage to the shopfront – which was enough to pause her attempts to press on with a home delivery service.

‘Positive’

In the coming days, however, after drawing breath, she hopes to begin deliveries of cakes and cookies.

Lisa will also be marketing vouchers to bring in badly-needed cash over the coming weeks.

Lisa, 30, said: “As I have joked to everyone, my timing has been immense. Just wonderful!

“You know, it’s just one of those things. I’ve tried to be as positive as possible (when the outbreak became a reality).

“I’ve said, ‘right, this has happened, this is how you deal with it’.”

Three people

Co-founders Lisa Rennie and James Johnstone and chef Graeme Thomson. Photo: Connor McEwan

She reflects: “I just think it (coronavirus) has been an absolute, horrific blow to anyone who is in hospitality.

“So many people have lost their jobs and all the rest of it. And it is awful.

“But you have to put a positive spin on it.

“Somehow you have to find some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

“I had said to my staff, the good thing, see the amount of jobs coming out of Tesco, Aldi and all that.

‘I just think it has been an absolute, horrific blow to anyone who is in hospitality.

‘So many people have lost their jobs and all the rest of it. And it is awful’

Lisa Rennie

“It’s one of those you just have to get in the meantime.”

The restaurant closed up last Sunday after limping on under increasing restrictions.

Overnight that night, intruders smashed their way through the front door to take advantage of a business in trouble.

Lisa said: “I had spoken to my husband as we closed that evening, and said I was going to come in the morning to secure some of the stock.

“I didn’t even get chance to do that and the till got stolen.

“They left all the alcohol which was probably worth more than the till.

Root Candy

Root Candy on Hyndland Street and its broken door.

“The police said they would pass it on to the local community officer but they said, to be honest, there is not a huge deal that can be done about it, which is not surprising in the circumstances.

“They have more on their plate right now than dealing with my till. It’s one of these things.”

Lisa and her business partner chef James Johnstone had built the business up around outside catering.

It was always the dream to open a restaurant while keeping the catering going at the same time.

Now both streams of the business have gone – for the time being.

“We actually do a lot of corporate catering, and of course that just died.

Dedicated

“Within one day the amount of cancellations we had was just immense – around March 3.

“We were being told, listen, we love everything you do, but we won’t be able to order from you until the end of April, beginning of May.

“See now, kind of looking at it, I don’t even think the start of May is going to work.”

It had been a great opening week for the business with positive reviews and reaction.

Glasgow Live had featured the debutant as a must new place to visit in March.

A lot was being made of the West End getting its own dedicated vegetarian diner.

Dish of food on a plate

Root Candy had enjoyed positive reviews and feedback. Photo: Connor McEwan

Dishes include eggplant porchini, butternut katsu curry, sweet potato tacos and Root Candy burger.

The battle now is to keep as many staff retained as possible.

The team has had to let go of casual staff – hopeful of seeing them again when ‘normality’ returns.

Lisa said: “We had always wanted to open a restaurant.

“It was about finding the right location and the right set of circumstances.

‘Sob story’

“We finally got it all up and running to then find ourselves just a few weeks later in this situation.

“But I don’t want a sob story.

“In the next week, I will be putting up a post from Facebook which is for a home delivery scheme for cookies, cakes that kind of thing.

“We will be doing them for delivery and we will be introducing vouchers.

“We’re not going to give up and hope to opening again some time soon.”

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