Ale fresco: English pubs prepare for exterior reopening on April 12 | Hotel industry


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Jackie Fairburn, licensee of The Hare & Hounds pub in West Ardsley near Wakefield, is more enthusiastic about reopening on Monday when the lockdown restrictions are relaxed than when she received the pub keys ago five years.

“We are all systems that work,” says Fairburn. “Can’t wait to open, it’s been so long. This relaunch is like starting a new business over and over, but it’s actually a much bigger deal – it has to work. ”

Fairburn has made every effort to reopen. She used scaffolding planks to build a replica of the pub bar in the garden, complete with bar stools, and moved all the tables and chairs from inside to outside.

The redesigned outdoor spaces of The Hare & amp;  Pub Hounds in West Ardsley, near Wakefield.
The redesigned outdoor spaces of The Hare & Hounds pub in West Ardsley, near Wakefield. Photographie: Richard Saker / The Observer

“This will be the first time they’ve been to the pub since it closed on November 4, so I figured they’d like to see all of its familiar furniture,” she says. “Sitting on picnic benches is difficult for those with mobility issues; having the pub chairs makes it easy and comfortable.

“We’re building new tables now that we speak, we’re going to have 65 to 70 tables outside – that’s a huge space. We’re going to be a bigger pub in the garden than we were in total before the lockdown. “

The tables are distributed in a socially distant formation over three marquees, with more scattered around the garden. Fairburn has installed four televisions outside, plenty of heaters and promises surprise entertainment.

“It was really a desert there, we never used it,” says Fairburn, who gave up a post of logistics manager for a manufacturing company to take over the pub five years ago. “But now we’ve really been to town and it will pay dividends with our fingers crossed.

“We opted for an après-ski atmosphere with throws and hot drinks. I think people will quickly get used to more outdoor socializing. “

Fairburn also adapted the pub menu. She will serve wood-fired pizzas, hot roast beef sandwiches, jacket potatoes and sharing platters while also serving roast dinners on Sundays.

Jackie Fairburn, owner of The Hare & Hounds pub in West Ardsley
Jackie Fairburn, the owner of The Hare & Hounds pub in West Ardsley. Photographie: Richard Saker / The Observer

The Hare & Hounds, like thousands of other pubs, were forced to close in early November as a second nationwide lockdown was put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. While some in Level 1 and 2 areas were able to reopen at the end of November as long as customers ordered a ‘hearty meal’ with drinks, the Hare & Hounds were prevented from reopening as Yorkshire was a high risk area. The current national lockdown began on January 6.

As part of the roadmap for a reopening of business and society, hospitality venues can start serving customers outdoors from Monday, April 12. This time around, there won’t be a need to order a large meal in addition to drinks, or a curfew – although customers should order, eat and drink while sitting down.

Fairburn and other publicans say the table service requirement means they have to hire a lot more staff. Normally, she employs one staff member during the day and another at night. On Monday, there will be eight in the day and eight more in the evening to help serve some of the 38 barrels of beer – or 3,344 pints – freshly delivered Thursday.

The Prince of Peckham in south London is also hiring plenty of new staff to deal with an expected rush on Monday and throughout next week. “We’re actually hiring quite a few new staff,” says Rohie Njie, the pub’s events manager. “Normally, a lot of our staff are students, but the reopening just happens when there are a lot of essays and final exams, so we have to recruit new people.”

Signs at the Hare & Hounds pub in West Ardsley, near Wakefield.
Signs at the Hare & Hounds pub in West Ardsley, near Wakefield. Photographie: Richard Saker / The Observer

The prince is ready for the rush. The pub extended its patio into the sidewalk of Peckham High St with permission from the council and erected a temporary roof with scaffolding. “So if it’s raining or snowing, we can have happy people outside,” Njie says. “There is room for 60 people, most are booked, but we have left space for regulars who show up.”

When Njie opens the doors at 4 p.m. on Monday, one of the first people to walk through is expected to be a local called Lacey. “She made one of the first reservations, and the pub is very important to her, she had her wedding ceremony and reception here right before the lockdown.”

Njie is also looking forward to welcoming Kev, one of the pub’s oldest regulars, who has remained loyal to the pub during his transition from the traditional boozer to the studenty hangout. “He’s always seated in the same spot at the bar, so we made sure we had room for him outside. We are really excited to welcome him again for the first time since January, we waved for him to walk down the street so we know he is still there. We are really excited to see all of our customers really and to pull that first pint. “

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Njie worries that part of the younger clientele will get carried away. “People haven’t been out for so long, some will forget their limits. I just hope it stays safe, but I think people are going to go a lot crazier than usual.

While those pubs that are fortunate enough to have gardens to serve customers anxiously await a return to something near normal on Monday, hundreds more who have no outdoor space are frustrated. to have to wait until May 17 to welcome people inside.

The British Beer and Pub Association expects only around 40% of pubs in England to reopen on Monday. The trade body estimates that around 15 million pints will be sold next week, which is only a quarter of normal April trading.

Dawn Hopkins, who runs the Rose Inn in Norwich and is vice president of the Pub Campaign, says her pub only has a small garden that could accommodate just six socially distant people. “So I decided that there weren’t a lot of opening points, and I know there are a lot of other ads in our kind of situation. We will just have to wait even longer. It has been an incredibly difficult, frustrating, anxious and at times heartbreaking year for us and for tax collectors across the country.

Fairburn agrees and says the last few months have been the most difficult of her life. “People think we’ve had so much free time, but it’s not time,” she says. “It was time to stress over the money. It’s frankly horrible, but you have to stay positive. There are too many people downstairs, it’s our role to encourage people. It is our role to listen to the people who enter; they don’t need to know our problems, we are here to listen to them.

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