Spur stores will not reopen at the end of lockdown because that would be commercial suicide. There won’t be any meals at Spur when South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown ends – and no takeaways either. That decision comes from hard experience immediately before the lockdown, when such restrictions were first introduced.

With close to 600 restaurants across the county and roughly 30 000 staff members, the Spur Group has a lot on its shoulders, especially in the midst of a pandemic that has ensued a lockdown.

“You often find that one person working then supports a whole lot of other people…so you can actually say there are tens of thousands more who are dependent on income coming from our group,” said Farrelly.

Farrelly said the Spur Group was impacted from the moment the first case of the virus was confirmed back in March.

“What looked like it was going to be a good month at that stage, ended up with turnover being down around 60%. I can tell you our franchisees lost tens of thousands of rand by the end of March.

Spur COO Mark Farrelly

Other than a few of the group’s Rocomamas burger joints, all Spur and Panarottis restaurants will remain closed as long as they face restrictions on the number of customers and when they can sell booze, Spur group’s chief operating officer Mark Farrelly said in a letter to landlords.

Farrelly didn’t tell landlords when stores in the group may start trading again, instead warning that winter could be rough for sit-down restaurants.

“One of our major concerns is that we are going into winter (the flu season) and rightfully, people will continue to be alarmed by anyone coughing and sneezing,” he said. “Once Spurs do open again, landlords should expect no more than 6% of turnover as a rental payment, he said, at a time when business “will initially be diabolical”.

Spur has more than 600 outlets in its stable, and says its franchisees employee more than 30,000 people directly.