Back to the Bar
(socially distanced pub)
This year has been a curve ball for the hospitality sector. Thinking ‘outside the box’ to survive is the norm, from home deliveries to off-sales and ‘cook at home’. Some have also taken the opportunity to give places a facelift or change things they would never have time to do before.
When guidance was released that helped larger (pubcos and chains) while making it harder for smaller establishments to open. Thank fully the little guys have been inventive, creating new ways to keep customers safe yet still have a pleasant experience enjoying a pub, restaurant or hotel.
As a teacher I have been providing Keyworker cover in school and so would not visit a local until ‘I’ was ‘safe’. With the end of term, I gave it a couple of weeks before I visited my first pub.
There has been a lot of debate on social media about how awful it will be, not being able to go to the bar, the atmosphere will be different etc.
So, what did I find, feel?
Scared, nervous, yes all of those, yet….I loved it! I like table service. I can ask the staff questions about the drinks. I felt more relaxed and for once, my short frame did not lead me to get ignored at the bar or shoved to one side. Now the panic has died down, you only need to book if its a busy time. I found in some places the range of beers was less, yet all were in great condition and with something for everyone. There was a one-way system in place and real thought had gone into every aspect.
On the plus side for the pubs, I spent more. As 4 people together (from 2 separate houses) we did not always finish at the same time so staff would pop up, ‘would you like another? Ok, while I wait.’
We visited, The Artichoke, Brewery Tap (new name for The Fat Cat Brewery Tap) and Kings Head. The places were busy and have different opening hours.
We also visited Sir Tobys on Friday evening. They have worked with the local council, market and food stalls to open a number of tables at the top of the market in the evenings at weekends.
It was well run, with a table booked for longer than needed. Fresh menus on the tables with the feeling of a European drinking experience, with drinks to suit everyone. Food was catered by Cocina Mia, Chilean street food all freshly cooked and quick.
They hope that they will be running these in the weekends during the summer and more food stalls will be open.
As I write Norwich Beer Festival has announced it will not run this year. They are planning a range of events to encourage people to visit local pubs instead.
My final words are still to, shop local, support the small guys, without them every pub will be a Wetherspoons and every restaurant an off the shelf, Mac d’s, Wagamamas or Starbucks.