Coronavirus: Restaurateur blown away by response to heartfelt letter to Boris Johnson

Peter Kinsella, owner of Lunya in Liverpool and Manchester, wrote a heartfelt letter to Boris Johnson. (Google Maps)

A restaurateur has been blown away by the response to his heartfelt letter to Boris Johnson saying he will “never be able to repay” back any government loan, even if his business survives the coronavirus outbreak.

Peter Kinsella, who runs Lunya in Liverpool and Manchester, penned the letter amid concerns the hospitality industry is facing ruin after the government advised customers to stay away from bars, restaurants and clubs but did not order them to close.

In the open letter which he posted on Twitter, Kinsella – whose wife Elaine was due to undergo a second biopsy for thyroid cancer on Thursday – said he was crying as he wrote it as he was “terrified and so worried" for the business and its 105 employees.

On Tuesday, chancellor Rishi Sunak said grants of up to £25,000 will be offered to restaurants, bars and shops, but Kinsella said whatever the amount offered was, he wouldn’t be able to pay it back.

In the letter, which has been retweeted nearly 6,000 times, he said: “We have never sought, nor expected any help from the government.”

He added was relieved when the government said it would do whatever it could to support businesses.

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But he pointed out that loans “come with liabilities and expectations or repayment”, saying: “Whatever the total is, we will never be able to pay it back.”

Kinsella – who said he needs around £110,000 each month just to pay his staff – urged Boris Johnson not to allow “significantly or uber-wealthy” to gain from the current crisis and called for more protection for business owners.

Speaking to Yahoo News UK on Thursday, Kinsella called for more information from the government on what measures will be available.

He said: “In 24 hours nothing has changed in terms of any detail about Tuesday’s announcement. It’s the same situation as someone at home, when you’ve spent virtually your last penny and someone is saying they can help, you need to know what that help is and when you’ll get it.

“It’s going to come, but we need to know when.”

He said he had been amazed by the reaction to his letter and in the last 24 hours, Lunya’s online store had had its biggest day ever and they were having to reprint gift vouchers due to receiving so many orders.

The letter has also received a response from the chancellor, who said any loans would be long-term with no interest payable for the first six months.

“My letter was an outpouring of something in me that had to be done really,” said Kinsella.

“I don’t know what I hoped it would do if anything, it just made me feel a bit better and it got the things that were running through my head out, but the impact has been incredible.”