Normality is on the horizon as pubs and restaurants prepare to welcome their customers indoors
Lockdown has hit the hospitality industry arguably more than any other and hard-working hoteliers, publicans and restauranteurs have had to adapt to survive.
Now, as businesses prepare to welcome customers to dine and drink indoors from the 17th May, there's a real buzz of excitement and hope for the future.
The Bryntirion Inn, a traditional pub, restaurant and hotel near Lake Bala in North Wales, have had a tumultuous time over the past year, but they're positive about the future.
“Opening outside on the 26th April felt like carnival day,” smiles Bryntirion’s Linda Rich. “Everyone had a smile on their face; it was like a light came on in people’s eyes. Even if customers came and sat at a table on their own, they were waving to each other.”
To adapt to the new normal, many pubs have invested in covered areas and outdoor heaters, so people can still enjoy that much-awaited pint and bite to eat, even if it's raining or cold. The Bryntirion are no exception, having erected a large gazebo in the beer garden which is split into pods for bookings of six people. They also have heaters and blankets on hand for chilly days.
“Like many people, we’ve had a very tough time as we have big overheads, and the grants barely covered a few of our basic costs," says Linda. "So we’ve had to adapt in order to keep going in some format through the lockdown. We’ve offered takeaway throughout and that has worked well, allowing us to keep some of the staff employed, and we've kept the bedrooms open for key workers. Keeping partially open has also helped our sanity levels, as not everyone copes well with nothing to do.
“I've felt every emotion under the sun since March 2020, but people always say I seem very positive. I think this is my way of dealing with it.
“I also like to keep busy, so we painted the outside of the building and my husband, who is very handy, did a lot of DIY during the lockdowns.
“It's easier this year because we have been through the whole experience once, but only if the Welsh Government stick to the current rules. If they start changing everything again it'll be extremely tough. Although it'll help that we're opening indoors on the same day as England this time.”
But it’s not just Linda who's enjoying being open again, as the village pub is usually the beating heart of any community.
“At the Bryntirion, people can be safe and social and that's so important for people’s mental health,” she adds.
“We play a massive part in the community and local residents have really missed being able to go out and socialise, particularly people who live alone, which is why I’m positive about the future.”
To find out more about the Bryntirion, including menus and room rates, call 01678 530205 or visit www.bryntirioninn.co.uk