More hospitality businesses get set to open from Monday
After a bleak winter more businesses are looking forward to opening next week as step three of the roadmap out of restrictions is reached.
At last indoor dining, larger gatherings and overnight accommodation are permitted from Monday.
Landlord of The Ferry at Alveston, Martin Tolley, says he is excited to be opening after a very challenging series of lockdowns.
He told the Herald: “Going through the first lockdown there wasn’t a day when we didn’t stop working – there are so many jobs that you don’t get round to and we renovated the whole place inside and out. Then when we reopened in early summer we were very busy.
“By November we were all prepared for Christmas when we had to shut. That led to a long cold winter. It was depressing because we haven’t been able to do or achieve anything.”
Martin came to Alveston more than six years ago, after an army career followed by more than 20 years in catering. He says The Ferry is the best and happiest place he has run, and that the support of the village has been fantastic throughout the last year.
“With a small village like Alveston, we are a social hub – and us being shut has been difficult being shut for everyone. We’ve received so many messages of goodwill.”
Now, with staff back from furlough, Martin is preparing for some hard work, with full table service being offered both inside and outside the pub.
“We’ve got a lot of feedback from people who say they are looking forward to a pint of real ale and tugging into some of signature dishes, including our slow-cooked lamb.”
While some restaurants with outdoor dining areas have been able to open since mid-April, many Stratford establishments have no such space and are only just looking forward to reopening.
One of those is well-established Sheep Street favourite, Loxleys. General manager Jonathan Lea explained his relief at being able to welcome guests from Monday, he said: “Like many other restaurants, the past year has been difficult so it’s great news that we have been given the green light to reopen and welcome our customers back from Monday.
“Most of our staff were furloughed during the various lockdowns but we have retained our close-knit team and it goes without saying that everyone is excited to get back to doing what they love. Judging by the volume of bookings we’re receiving, we’re expecting to be incredibly busy so we’re also recruiting more staff as we speak to ensure we continue to offer the high levels of service that we are renowned for.”
Jonathan said they were keen to ensure that Covid-safety measures are closely adhered to. “Safety is at the top of our agenda. As we did last year we’ll be ramping up our already-high standards of cleaning with a dedicated sanitising team. All of our guests are required to sanitise when they enter the restaurant and we will have social distancing in place to keep everyone safe from customers to staff.”
Despite threats from hotel chains and online booking sites like Airbnb, Stratford’s bed and breakfast businesses hope to thrive during what promises to be a busy summer with most Brits having to take ‘staycations’ as travel abroad looks very uncertain.
Bill Bruce has been running Moss Cottage bed and breakfast for more than 11 years, with home-baking offered by his partner Peter Buckroyd.
He said he had been able to keep going when he had to close the business with the help of support grants, which paid £1,400 every three months, but was hoping to get back up and running swiftly from next week.
“My first guest arrives Tuesday,” said Bill. “Then we are booked most weekends for summer – although to really get going we need the RSC to return.”
Bill said that it had been mainly older people that tended to use bed and breakfast as they like the more personal service on offer.
However after signing up with website booking.com he had seen a more diverse range of guests, and that now 90 per cent of guests booked in that way.
He explained: “Some of them expect us to be more hotel-like, and are surprised to be served tea and homemade cake, given a map and offered a friendly chat about where to go and what to see.
So I am hoping that the personal touch that I and other b&bs give will make the difference that we need to attract the guests we need while the theatre is closed.”