Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Coronavirus in Scotland: 'I come here because I don't know what else to do'

Graziano Borghese in his cafe

Graziano Borghese has been going to his deserted cafe every day since the coronavirus lockdown came into effect two weeks ago. He is trying to find a way to prevent his business closing for good, and admits: "I don't know what else to do."

Pacing up and down inside his Italian cafe, the father-of-three is close to tears as he tells of his fears that his business will only be able to survive for a few more weeks.

Since restaurants and cafes were ordered to close on 24 March, Graziano has been trying to continue as a takeaway and by offering home deliveries.

The 40-year-old put all his money into opening Buon Gusto, in a busy row of shops in the Edinburgh suburb of Buckstone, 18 months ago.

His dream had been to set up his own business and to work for himself after spending 10 years as a restaurant manager in the capital's city centre.

He took out loans to pay for a 10-year lease on the premises and to kit out the cafe with all the equipment he needs.

Graziano then set about putting in 12-hour days in a bid to build up a base of loyal customers.

He said: "It is difficult to start up a new business and takes a lot of hard work.

"It was starting to come together and I was proud of what I had achieved, but then this happened and suddenly I had no customers."

He tried to move into deliveries by selling an Italian afternoon tea box, but only sold four last week.

"Look at the street, look at my shop. It is usually busy at lunchtime but it is empty, a ghost town," he said.

"I feel very worried and I am trying to think of how I can survive."

Mr Borghese said he had ended up throwing out food because his attempts to offer deliveries had not taken off.

Despite the lack of business, he said he still needed to pay rent to his landlord, as well as paying the loans he had taken out.

He has applied for some of the government help available for businesses, but said: "If I'm not allowed to reopen as a cafe very soon I will be closed for good.

"I think I can only survive for another few weeks. I feel very anxious and desperate at this situation.

"And I just keep coming here because I don't know what else to do."