A restaurant in Chorleywood is  reaching out to help elderly and vulnerable residents during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Peppermill mediterranean restaurant is offering to deliver food to residents in the village who have taken the government's advice on self-isolating and social distancing during the pandemic.

Many elderly or vulnerable people have been worried about going out to get food, especially as there are food shortages in supermarkets, and ordering food deliveries online is often the only other way.

Andre Vazquez, 50, who runs The Peppermill in New Parade, said: “We reached out to customers of ours who we know might be slightly vulnerable in the crisis, and we have been offering to deliver any meals to them that they need.

“There’s one gentleman in his early 80s who usually gets a taxi here for his lunch, then walks along to the bakery before he goes home. But we are now making him sandwiches and will deliver to him. We also gave a batch of fishcakes, some lasagne and some Bolognese to one lady. Fishcakes are usually £7.50 but we just charged £3, we are just helping as much as we can.”

The Peppermill was started by Mr Vazquez parents, Pepe and Suzanne, in 1968 and was the only restaurant in Chorleywood. Andre Vazquez took over eight years ago.

He said: “Chorleywood has always been a lovely community; everyone looks out for each other and always have done. I have had people checking up on us as well and asking if there is anything they can do to help.”

The Government announced on Tuesday (March 17) the biggest package of emergency state support for business since the 2008 financial crash, with more than £20bn in tax cuts as well as grants for companies threatened with collapse. However, it has stopped short of introducing bans for restaurants and pubs.

Mr Vazquez said: “The government have thrown the catering industry under a bus. The local businesses here in Chorleywood have been struggling for a while, and the measures the government has announced all help, but I wish they had done it before. They advised people not to gather in restaurants, but they didn’t prohibit it, so there is nothing we can do in terms of insurance. Our footfall just completely disappeared.”

Watford Observer:

Andre Vazquez, owner of The Peppermill restaurant in Chorleywood

Despite the financial difficulties facing local businesses, Mr Vazquez said the whole idea of a village is to try and help people in times of need. He said: “It’s just something we have always done as a community. People donlt need to order from the menu, if they just need a pasta or something to keep in the freezer, or sandwiches, we will help them.”

Gilda Conrich, 82, said: “I have a combination of illnesses, I am not well, and I’m also in pain. My son and I have already discussed it with Andre, and he’s been very kind. I have his menu at home and he has said to just ring up and he will deliver it to me. It’s a question of caring about people. I also care about him and his business, and it’s all part of being a community”

Gilda’s son, Robbie, 52, said: “My mum is really lucky to have this and I’m grateful. I am from Enfield and you wouldn’t get this level of help, except maybe in tiny pockets of the area. I am still working at the moment so I can’t be here all the time, but at least I know my mum is being looked after and can get some nice food.”

Mr Vazquez added: “One of the issues we have had is trying to get food from our usual suppliers. People have emptied out the supermarkets and are now moving onto wholesalers like Costco, so it can be a problem for businesses that have always used them to now get hold of their normal stock.”

Watford Observer:

Rajula Dodhia (63), Ellie Hawker, Lucy Bragg, and Hitesh Dodhia (62) - behind them in the pharmacy is Hitesh and Rajula's daughter, Purui (31)

Hitesh Dodhia, from Parade Pharmacy, Main Parade Chorleywood, said he has also struggled with getting supplies. He said: “Our problem is definitely about getting stock, for example hand gels and paracetamol. We sold 180 hand gels in two days.”

He added that one of the issues facing many small businesses is the price hike in goods, Mr Dodhia, who has run the pharmacy in Chorleywood for almost 30 years, said: “We can’t buy things at the normal price now because suppliers are putting the prices up, but we don’t want to put the prices up for our customers.”

“I bought paracetamol for 1.58 for a packet of 32 tablets, by the time I add VAT that takes them up to £1.89 and I sell them for £1.99, so I am making just 10p.”

Mrs Gilda said Mr Dodhia at Parade Pharmacy was “a treasure” She said: “I just live around the corner but he will bring my medicines over to me, and will do anything to help people. So I am lucky living here.

She added: “I am always going to support Chorleywood and the people that trade here, we all need to help each other out in this time.”

• For any residents of Chorleywood to have to self-isolate, St Andrew’s Church is offering to help with shopping, running local errands and providing emotional comfort and support. Contact Vanessa on 07872 903486