Fancy a pint? Harpenden pubs and restaurants embrace ‘new normal’
- Credit: Archant
Like many across the UK, pubs and restaurants in Harpenden welcomed back customers on Saturday, after more than three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 23, businesses across all sectors, schools and many work places closed their doors as the UK prepared for what would be months of increased infection rates and a high peak of the virus. Now, marks the beginning of a ‘new normal’ for pubs and restaurants which have finally been allowed to reopen under strict social distancing measures.
The Herts Ad spoke to some pubs and restaurants in Harpenden, to find out how they got on with Saturday’s re-opening.
Lockdown provided time for a face-lift for some, including the new owners of Seb’s Kitchen – formerly Jay’s – in Southdown Road.
Owner Sebastian Harris told the Herts Ad: “I was the head chef of Jay’s and we took over during lockdown. On Saturday, we opened for people to come in and sit down and enjoy a brunch, cocktails, coffees, juices – hopefully catering to everyone’s needs.
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“From August 1, we will also be open in the evening for dinners and small plates over the weekends.
“The menu is based around fresh produce, simple and healthy brunch dishes.”
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Sebastian’s partner, Lianne Goode, added: “We’ve tried to make it a laid-back atmosphere where people can come in for a cocktail and small dishes as well as a three-course meal.”
When discussing lockdown and re-opening, the pair agreed lockdown was ‘good’ for them, having only just taken over the business.
“We had a chance to lock up and paint the place and give it a face lift,” Sebastian continued.
“We have made it kid-friendly and we welcome dogs we as well. The lockdown was tough, but it gave us that chance to redo the place.”
Safety precautions at Seb’s Kitchen include hand sanitiser on every table, and chairs, tables and menus are sanitised by staff when customers are finished.
Another Harpenden business which was taken over by new owners at the start of lockdown is The Silver Cup, which is now owned by Michael Singleton and Matt Reeder.
The childhood friends opened their newly refurbished bar area on Saturday, and were pleased with how the day went, as punters have “had time to get used to social distancing and one-way systems”.
Matt said: “COVID gave us the opportunity to get stuck in with decorating and utilising the bar area, as well as doing up the restaurant next door, which isn’t quite ready yet.
“From our perspective, we took over a business during the furlough period, so we’ve only just met our existing staff a week ago!”
On Saturday’s opening, Michael said: “Mostly it was really good – people saw what we were doing and they were happy with it.
“Every business seems to have its own spin on the guidelines, which makes you question if you’re doing it right, but we had a visit from health advisors – who have been going to many businesses – and they were happy with what we were doing.
“It’s all so new but the customers are really understanding at the moment and most are really happy to be out and about again.”
Guidelines at The Silver Cup include staff wearing gloves or washing hands regularly, and wearing masks when working in front of house.
They have also limited the number of people sitting indoors.
The restaurant at The Silver Cup will open on Sunday.
The George of Harpenden has also opened its doors for drinkers and restaurant goers.
Customers are asked to use the hand sanitiser provided when entering, and the pub is providing a table service for food and drink.
Manager Phil Hemingway said: “We’ve had really positive feedback from the guests, they really understand the reasons we’re doing things, and they’ve all been really happy to oblige.”
The restaurant and bar was “busy all day” on Super Saturday, as foodies and drinkers across the town enjoyed the lifting of lockdown restrictions that have been in place since March.
Phil added: “We are doing as much as possible to ensure customers feel safe – we have a large seating area outside, and there’s is nothing on the tables when you arrive – and after you leave, tables, chairs and menus are thoroughly sanitised.
“We also have a one-way system and are providing table service to avoid crowds at the bar.”