Outside opening – how hospitality fared

Outdoor dining

The reopening of outdoor dining and drinking saw hundreds of thousands flock to bars, restaurants, and pubs across the country this month.

After an average loss of £200 million a day in 2020 across the hospitality industry, it’s no secret that businesses were in need of this financial boost. But just how prepared were they to deal with the madness that freedom week brought?

Midnight queues and chilly weather were just some of the things business owners encountered, but morale has nonetheless been at an all time high over the past week.

Nick Lofts, Director at The Brunswick, Leeds, said:The last few days have been really good, especially Monday which I assume most people booked off – it was like an unofficial bank holiday.

“Due to being such a small pub, we have definitely had to deal with no shows over the years, but to make this stage of opening easier for us we aren’t doing bookings at all, just walk ups.

“So far, most people have been super excited and our outside space is very open and well socially distanced, so everyone has seemed to be as calm and happy as possible.”

Social distancing should still be at the forefront of your staff and customer’s minds, so it’s really important to keep reminding them as often as possible

Nick adds: “Before the last reopening, we used our takeout licence which meant we got to ease into welcoming customers back gradually. However, since we were unable to do that this time round it was slightly different, luckily we had already made all the relevant changes for health and safety, so everything was in place.”

Kevin Ryan, at the workforce management platform, Planday said: “There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been an extremely tough time for the hospitality industry. For those businesses that did manage to survive, money will continue to be tight, so prioritising cash flow is necessary to ensure a strong comeback.

Dining in the outdoors

“In particular,  while there is an influx of customers now that restrictions have lifted, the number of staff required for the next few months will also need to be accounted for – you may need all hands on deck but you must also be able to assess what is financially viable and what is not.”

Tash Blythe, expert in health and safety at the online training provider, High Speed Training comments:It’s so important to ensure your health and safety checklist is up to date, and that staff are properly trained to cover new risks – and know how to follow control measures.

“Staff may require both internal and external training, with internal training being especially important if there have been a number of changes to the premises and work processes due to Covid-19.

“It’s also extremely important to ensure the premises is compliant with the latest guidance around everything from fire to electrical safety – as well as ensuring the correct inspections and maintenance checks are carried out on machinery.”

This year has been so much smoother than last year as we prepped as much as we could

Luke Hodson, founder of the printing company, Awesome Merchandise said his have been working with venues to ensure the best use of signage. He added: “Social distancing should still be at the forefront of your staff and customer’s minds, so it’s really important to keep reminding them as often as possible of this safety precaution.

“Displaying wall stickers and posters around your venue as explicitly possible will provide the best opportunity for social distancing to be carried out effectively.”

Lowri Redmond, Assistant Manager at North Brewing Co said: “We’ve actually found that the week ran surprisingly smoothly – we’re operating with walk-ins only, so taking juggling bookings out of the equation has made things a lot easier than last summer.

“This year has been so much smoother than last year as we prepped as much as we could but spent the first few weeks constantly tweaking procedures and other details to try to streamline the operation. We learnt so much though, that this time around, we were confident that we could open on the 12th completely ready to go!”

She added: “We’ve taken on quite a few members of staff after both incidences of lockdown easing and had a lot more time to introduce them to the team and train them up so everyone was on the same page on opening day. Since reopening, we’ve been pretty much full from midday until we close and the staff, new and old, have all hit the ground running. We definitely learnt that preparation is key.”

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