Super Saturday

Pubs report smooth and safe reopenings

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Successful weekend: licensees who reopened their pubs said trade went well
Successful weekend: licensees who reopened their pubs said trade went well

Related tags: lockdown

Licensees from across the country have reported successful reopenings over last weekend (Saturday 4 July) with takings on par with 2019.

Despite national media illustrating scenes showing pubgoers crowding together on what was dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, most operators saw little problems.

Co-owner of the Olive Branch, Clipsham in Rutland, Ben Jones reported similar levels of takings to the same date in 2019.

He said: “All good in the midlands, only £200 short of the same Saturday last year, customers happy, staff worked off their feet.”

Michelin-starred chef from the Star Inn Harome, North Yorkshire Andrew Pern said reopening had gone well.

He added: “No problems up North. No issues [and] all staff have been brilliant under new regime. We took about the same as a normal Saturday too, so back to business as ‘normal’!”

Chef-patron of the Beehive in White Waltham, Berkshire, Dominic Chapman hailed his customers and called for the behaviour seen over the weekend to continue.

Totally humbled

He said: “Incredible day. Civilised, smooth. Everyone respectful and very happy to be out.

“All spaced out nicely. Could not have asked for a better start. Totally humbled by our wonderful guests. We now need this every day.”

The weekend was a success but there is still concern about how trade is going to continue, one operator signalled.

The Dog at Wingham in Kent owner Marc Bridgen said: “We are up on food and beverage year-on-year. There was a 'Super Saturday’ effect and we ran a longer service to accommodate everyone.

“However, the week is going to be a very different story and is still very stressful. Our rooms open on Friday (10 July) and bookings really need to pick up.

“Boom weekend to celebrate the reopening of hospitality but I am still seeing huge uncertainty in normal trading - flexible furlough is going to be key.”

Great atmosphere

Manager of Leeds-based pub the Cross Keys, Richard Fiddaman said the day went better than he expected.

He added: “I was worried about what it may bring so kept quite quiet that we were reopening to ensure we could test our Covid-secure plans without being overwhelmed.

“The weather turned out nice, which was helpful as lots people sat in our newly finished beer garden (finished at 11.30am that day). It seemed everyone was just happy to be back out for a pint and where so well behaved and respectful towards the team. It was amazing.

“It was a great atmosphere and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time whilst maintaining good social distancing, on the whole.

“We’re having to reopen with a skeleton staff. Having been too new to qualify for furlough we can’t bring staff back on part-time furlough so it’s basically me and my assistant manager for the first few weeks until we can get trade up to levels we can make it worthwhile for the team to come back. (Many are students who have gone home or have other jobs now).

“Speaking to other operators in Leeds it seems most had largely good-natured people in and there was limited issues. Guests said one street in Leeds seemed to have lots of issues on Saturday but I hadn’t heard that.”

Well-behaved customers

Manager of Horsham Sports Club in West Sussex, Chris Shambrook has the benefit of a large outside space, which has been adapted as a huge beer garden.

He said: “Very busy weekend with well-behaved and mostly compliant customers.

“We have the advantage of turning the cricket pitch into a beer garden so space was not a problem. Keeping kids entertained and under control was the only small issue.

“If the sun shines now, we will be able to survive the winter.”

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