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Pub reopenings: a frontline view

Published:  06 July, 2020

Jo Eames, creative director and drinks buyer at Peach Pubs, gives the lowdown on the staggered reopening of venues across England’s market towns and how it’s all rolling out post 4 July.

We reopened our six largest pubs on Saturday. It was a lot of frantic work to get ready for, effectively six pub launches, all with new IT, cleaning, safety and service systems. The team were excellent, willing and ready to get back to work. There’s definitely a sense that they feel happy to be in a job right now, and have taken well to all the temperature testing, app completing, hand-washing like Lady Macbeth and extra table-cleaning.

Our interpretation of the guidance went down fine with our guests, who were almost all really sensible, in small groups and just craving a proper pint from the cask, a cocktail, a glass of rosé, some nicely-cooked sea bass and a flat-iron chicken (not all at the same time.)

We did have requests for much larger group bookings, but once we explained the rules people were reasonable. We had queues in a few places, but again people were patient. We have achieved distancing more by table spacing than by a massive number of screens, though we do have them where necessary. The guests were relieved that it all still felt relatively normal.

On Saturday, we were very close to sales for the same weekend last year (and that’s without the room revenue and associated F&B for the pubs with rooms), which are just reopening now. I haven’t seen Sunday’s figures yet.

Bookings are lower for the weekdays but very healthy again for next weekend.

We are opening the rest of our pubs on Thursday and Friday, having learnt whatever lessons we need to. One of these is that people have really missed Espresso Martinis!

Hopefully, by that time a few more people will have heard in despatches that our lovely civilised pubs are not the entrance to Dante’s Inferno (never have I heard the word “boozer” used with such frequency and disdain as by journalists on Radio 4 and in the Guardian this weekend) and might be willing to come and sit in the garden for a delicious plate of food.