On the day when restaurants and pubs re-opened in England and Northern Ireland, Vivienne King enjoys a celebratory meal.
The fourth of July is now a day of national significance to the UK as well as the US, being the day when pubs and restaurants re-opened in England and Northern Ireland. As a result, it became my professional and patriotic duty to get out and show my support.
The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit during the lockdown and I take my hat off to the smaller businesses in particular who have worked so hard to get ready to open their doors while ensuring the safety of their staff and customers. Many have had to think long and hard, not just about safety measures but also the economics of opening at all. Food cannot hang around for long and restaurants normally have to operate at 75% capacity to make any profit. Social distancing rules, even the new ‘1m plus’, will make it hard for many to break even, so it is really good to see so many have opened and are ready to welcome the great British public again.
I was out for a spot of Saturday shopping (how good it is to say that again) and this time I was able to visit a favorite restaurant, Polpo, for a light lunch. This used to be a regular thing, but it had felt like a distant treat. The tables are well spaced and there were subtle differences like hand sanitiser, disposable menus and no condiments on the table. But how enjoyable it is to sit down to a simple but well-prepared plate of tomato crostini and zucchini fries and a good cup of coffee surrounded by other people and watch the world go by.
Shopping and eating tend to go hand in hand, whether it is a quick coffee and a pastry while you rest your feet, a sociable lunch after a session of retail therapy with friends, or a treat at the end of an exhausting search for a ‘big ticket’ item. The footfall retail and catering create for each other is synergistic and it is a welcome and much needed boost for our economy that our pubs and restaurants are back in business supporting retail and vise versa.