Wednesday, December 8

The beer gardens sold out for months as English pubs count down the days until the April reopening | Hospitality industry

The British are planning to “eat, drink and play” once the lockdown is lifted, with many pubs and restaurants already fully booked for several months.

Those eager to make up for lost time have flooded places in England with table reservations in the beer gardens for when it is scheduled to reopen on April 12.

When Birmingham restaurant Craft began taking reservations on February 24, just after the prime minister announced the April relaxation, 147 groups (601 people) booked seats within 20 minutes.

“It has been an incredible response,” said Sam Morgan, CEO of We Are Craft Group. “We have a small amount of availability on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, but otherwise our private outdoor dining rooms are practically reserved until July and the interior is fully booked from when we open mid-May through July. We knew there would be a significant demand, however it definitely exceeded our expectations. It’s really comforting. “

Boris Johnson revealed plans last month to reopen the hotel industry. Starting April 12, up to six people will be able to meet friends or family in the beer gardens or eat al fresco. Indoor seating is scheduled to restart starting May 17, provided specific Covid-19 conditions are met. Starting June 21, the government hopes to lift all restrictions.

One Eight Six in Manchester, a cocktail bar and lounge, is fully booked for 10 consecutive weekends “at least” starting in May, despite having no advertising. “It’s been non-stop,” owner Dean Mac said. “The funny thing is, we haven’t really opened up yet. They are all our regular customers, friends and local contacts. [who have booked]. We left a couple of tables free but we are quite flooded. It is pleasantly surprising how much people want to go back. People are desperate for normalcy. People are sending messages saying that they are eager to drink a new cocktail. They want to spend money. “

Michelin star chef Daniel Smith of The Fordwich Arms, Kent.
Michelin star chef Daniel Smith of The Fordwich Arms, Kent. Photograph: Sophia Evans / The Observer

Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality CEO, said: “Feedback from our members is that bookings are very strong for the first weeks of reopening outdoors in April. It’s no wonder, after the terrible year we’ve had, people are eager to get back to socializing with friends and family. “

One such person is Amanda *, 20, a Northumberland-based PR worker who has made 12 beer garden reservations with her friends over six nights since mid-April.

I really think we will go to all of them, ”he said. “In any case, we may not have reserved enough, but due to the [pub] Business I know it’s not fair to overbook. I don’t even usually go out in the middle of the week, but I had a hard time getting reservations, so half it’s midweek and I’m ready to take a vacation from work. “

Tom Canning of The Hare and Hounds pub near Cambridge said he is “terribly terrified” after being inundated with reservations.

“It seems that we are busy for at least the first three weeks. With the level of interest, it seems that we will have to put time restrictions on the tables. We haven’t officially announced that we will open, so it’s great that we have a loyal following, but the logistics are a nightmare. “

Despite strong demand, many owners are concerned that the rush to make reservations could lead to last-minute cancellations and no-shows.

“Absences are a nuisance at best but, with companies still so fragile, their impacts would be greatly compounded,” said Nicholls. “It is good that places can implement measures to protect themselves from the potential impact. We hope customers take this into account when they book. “

Chef Daniel Smith, co-owner of the Michelin-starred The Fordwich Arms in Kent, also said he was concerned about possible absences. “They are detrimental to our industry. It is the difference between making a profit or not. We are very lucky because we have a loyal customer base. “

* Name has been changed

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