Cautious optimism as hospitality opens up again
May 17 got out to be a beautiful sunny day, ironically, as it was the first day restaurants, cafes and pubs could open indoors after the January lockdown.
Generally, the feeling from the business owners was cautious optimism; relief that at last some sort of return to normality was on the way, but tinged with a sense of concern over whether restrictions may return.
Customers were on the whole delighted to be able to go into the cafes and pubs. One customer in Coquet Tea Rooms said “It’s lovely to be back in.”
In the Dock, there was a lively atmosphere, with Adam Brown and Norman Herriman providing laughs and banter in the lunchtime crowd. “I’ve been ready since half five this morning!” laughed Norman, while Peter Young told me he’d even taken a couple of days off work so he could enjoy being back in a pub.
Some premises had changed hands over the winter. At Radcliffe’s Bar, new owner Mark Aberdeen said he had had a good few weeks of outside customer service, and was optimistic for a good season ahead.
At the Sand Bar, owner Suzanne Carroll who took over last Autumn, had just finished giving the place a thorough spruce up, and was looking forward to greeting customers again.
Martin Charlton at the Old Boat House said he was relieved that they could at last open back up. “It’s such a good feeling, and we’ve done the best we can to provide a safe environment for our customers. We are still in the middle of a global pandemic and some people do need to remember that. The hospitality trade is doing the best it can. But it’s great to see customers just happy to be out.”