Darren Bennett owns one of Essex’ top restaurants The Magic Mushroom in Billericay, Essex. After what has been one of the toughest years in history for all hospitality and indeed other sectors, Darren welcomed today’s Budget announcements. Darren has been the owner and executive chef of The Magic Mushroom since 1996.
Today’s budget announcements extending the 5% reduced rate of VAT to 30 September for the hospitality sector, the 100% Business Rate relief extended to 30 June and the extension of the Furlough Scheme until 30 September will certainly help.
Darren said,” Today’s announcements will make a difference to us in the hospitality sector. We understand the help cannot last forever and these gradual returns to normality will make a difference. It is still going to be a difficult journey but hopefully more bearable”.
The restaurant was only closed for 2 weeks at the start of the pandemic, before Darren launched his now highly successful Collection Menu. The Collection Menu gives diners the opportunity to experience the same fine dining as they would in the restaurant but in the comfort of their own homes. The menu does have to change weekly due to produce availability but the response from the local community spurred the team to carry on.
Darren said, “It would have been easy to give up, but I like to come up with new ideas to move the business forward, so we had to diversify in 2020 and this is what has kept us going.”
As well as the Collection Menu, Darren and the team offered a BBQ Menu including marquees and for Christmas launched a Cook at Home Menu which was adapted for Valentine’s Day and now Mother’s Day. This offers freshly prepared food for diners to cook at home and is presented with full cooking instructions. These Cook at Home Menus have been a success and Darren has started to deliver these too, which with the present guidelines enables him to add Champagne and Wine to the Menus.
Mother’s Day 2021 has seen Darren and the team launch an Afternoon Tea, which at the moment is only available for Collection, but with the long-awaited opening of the restaurant on the horizon, Afternoon Teas will become a regular offering. Darren and the team are extremely grateful to the local community for all the support that has been shown and they cannot wait to welcome both new and old diners into the restaurant when permitted.