‘IT’S BEEN A LONG WAIT’… Pubs and restaurants get set to reopen

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Jim and Claire Alexander of the Ebrington Arms. Photo: Mark Williamson

Hospitality businesses in the area are looking forward to reopening after more than three months of closure.

With the further easing of lockdown and the introduction of the “one metre plus” rule, pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can open from 4th July.

The announcement was greeted with relief by Claire and Jim Alexander of the Ebrington Arms.

“After so much speculation it’s fantastic to finally have an opening date,” Claire told the Herald. “We’ve been really busy planning for the opening for a long time, and have done a complete refurbishment of the bar and installed the most ridiculously expensive hand sanitiser stations!”

To comply with strict rules and guidelines drinkers and diners alike must pre-book a table at the pub – even for the beer garden – so that numbers can be monitored and to make social distancing easier to comply with.

Claire also explained that they were still some way from returning to ‘normality’. She said: “Obviously we can’t suddenly get all our team back as we have no idea about consumer confidence at the moment, and then we’ll adapt accordingly and expand our opening hours as the weeks go by. Hopefully it will all feel a bit more normal soon.

Real ale fans in search of their favourite pint might have to wait for a bit longer to quench their thirst. Claire said: “We don’t have any of our own draught in yet, Yubby Bitter and Goldie, because it costs £4k to do one brew and we’ve had no income for four months. So we won’t be able to get our own beers back until we’ve built up a bit of trade again. Although we do have craft ale from the Stroud Brewery.”

Claire said loyal local customers were keen to come back to the pub: “Everyone’s so excited about the reopening, there is a massive appetite for it, and we’re desperate to get the workforce back and get moving again.”

Meanwhile, as restaurants in the area are also preparing to reopen, Jonathan Lea, general manager at Loxleys Restaurant and Wine Bar, spoke about his enthusiasm for getting back to business.

He told the Herald: “We’ve been eagerly awaiting the government’s announcement, and are now looking forward to opening from lunchtime on 4th July. We have a new menu and everyone is looking forward to getting back to as close to business as usual as we can.” 

Jonathan added: “We’ve taken some tables out to ensure we are adhering to government guidelines and social distancing. In addition to all our usual high hygiene standards, we have measures in place to make sure we’re Covid-secure.

Speaking of how they have coped during lockdown, Jonathan said: “It has difficult for everyone – some of our staff come from different countries so being locked down in a foreign country away from family was particularly difficult for them. We kept in touch with the whole team to ensure they were both mentally and physically well. In some ways, this period gave everyone time to recharge and re-evaluate and also gave us the opportunity to carry out some routine maintenance and decoration. After what has been a really challenging time for all across Stratford and the rest of the country, we’re just looking forward to getting back on our feet and doing what we do best.”

Claire said: “After so much speculation it’s fantastic to finally have an opening date. We’ve been really busy planning for the opening for a long time and have done a complete refurbishment of the bar and installed the most ridiculously expensive hand sanitiser stations.”

To comply with the guidelines, drinkers and diners must pre-book a table – even for the beer garden – so numbers can be monitored and to enable social distancing.

Jonathan Lea, general manager at Loxleys. Photo: Mark Williamson

Claire added they were still some way from normality: “Obviously we can’t suddenly get all our team back as we have no idea about consumer confidence at the moment, and then we’ll adapt accordingly and expand our opening hours as the weeks go by. Hopefully it will all feel a bit more normal soon.”

She said loyal customers were keen to return: “Everyone’s so excited about the reopening. There is a massive appetite for it and we’re desperate to get the workforce back and get moving again.”

Jonathan Lea, general manager at Loxleys in Stratford, told the Herald: “We’ve been eagerly awaiting the announcement and are now looking forward to opening from lunchtime on 4th July. Everyone is looking forward to getting back to as close to business as usual as we can.

“It has been difficult for everyone – some of our staff come from different countries so being locked down in a foreign country away from family was particularly difficult for them. We kept in touch to ensure they were both mentally and physically well.

“After what has been a really challenging time, we’re just looking forward to getting back on our feet and doing what we do best.”