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Your pub and hospitality experience as the Covid restrictions ease

johnnychips

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19 Nov 2011
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3,022
Location
Sheffield
Several people have mentioned their first visits to the pub as the restrictions have eased, so I wondered if it is worth having a dedicated thread for members to share their experiences.

During the hot weather last week it was almost a Parisian experience in Doncaster (yes, I know), with many people sat outside on the street in bars. The council have encouraged this and gave over an area of one of their car parks to let a pub put tables there. I went to the Slug and Lettuce there earlier; if you haven’t got the NHS app, they enter your details on an iPad or a bit of paper. They will either take an order or direct you to their app if you want; cash is accepted.

All good until it started raining today, and they haven’t got a lot of covered outdoor space...

On a more general theme, a lot of pubs, especially in Sheffield, haven’t opened evidently due to a lack of outdoor space. But me and my mate are speculating...which ones will not open at all in May, for ever.

How about you?
 
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bengley

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18 May 2008
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1,625
Been to a few places, all have been pleasant. On the first Saturday they could open my friend and I were sat at a table with two other households on by the pub staff! It was quite surreal and refreshing to be honest!
 

lxfe_mxtterz

Member
Joined
3 Mar 2018
Messages
521
Location
Horse Stables
Visited a restaurant in the next town over last week, for the first time in what feels like forever. The first thing that struck me was the absence of physical menus - you had to scan a barcode on the table to be directed to an online menu. Obviously, the seating was outdoors, and given that it was a particularly sunny day, I was glad to have been given a table in the shade under the canopy.

It was my first time dining outside, ever (shocking, I know - I have always opted for indoor seating if offered the choice) and I'll be honest in saying that I'm not a huge fan of it. I expect it would've been alright if in a garden or such out the back, but this was out the front, right by the roadside, and the constant stream of people passing right by the table wasn't particularly pleasant...

Nevertheless, the meal was fantastic and I did enjoy it. Did feel good to have some normality once again.
 

NorthOxonian

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5 Jul 2018
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1,248
Location
Oxford/Newcastle
I think it's fair to say my experience has been a mixed bag so far. I've visited about eight pubs since reopening and I've experienced eight different approaches to service. There are some places which have handled the new restrictions with ease - particular credit has to go to the fairly busy place I visited last Friday afternoon which didn't have any kind of app or anything but was still serving people really quickly and efficiently. On the other hand, some places have waylaid my orders or just felt peetty unwelcoming.

I'd say the main issue is definitely capacity. You never quite know whether you're going to be able to get a space and that isn't ideal. I've found that most booking systems online don't seem to work very well, and even then I don't feel at ease using them to just sort out a pub trip (particularly if I'm just having a pint or two and it wants me to say whether I'm wanting lunch or dinner - neither, thanks!).

One final point to consider: some of the restrictions are just inconsistent and bizarre. Earlier today, I went for a walk from Carlisle to Gretna, which is only a few miles but crosses the Scottish border. When I was having my lunch in England, the pub operated entirely on the basis of table service, yet when I had a post-walk pint in Scotland, I could go right up to the bar and order as normal (which was a lovely surprise)! Why can't the same be done in England - walking to the bar, ordering, and taking your pint to the beer garden is just much more civilised than hoping to catch a member of staff's attention (which can take ages in many cases).
 

initiation

Member
Joined
10 Nov 2014
Messages
397
Been to four pubs.
First is a very popular village local - we went on the first night of reopening and was lucky to get in. Ordering app worked OK.
Second was just for a drink - not too busy but 5 minutes after trying to get the app to work properly (then realising our table number wasn't even on the list to select) we finally persuaded the bar lady to take our order and money the old fashioned way.
Third is probably our normal favourite pub however they have gone full ahead with restrictions including asking for masks even when walking around outside. Won't be going back.
Fourth was super relaxed, no booking permitted. Bar staff took your order and delivered very quickly. Busy enjoyable atmosphere so will be heading back.

Apart from the third, none were super pushy on the check in.

Why can't the same be done in England - walking to the bar, ordering, and taking your pint to the beer garden is just much more civilised than hoping to catch a member of staff's attention (which can take ages in many cases).
Yep, not permitted in England, despite the fact you are 'allowed' to go into a mcdonalds, costa etc... to order and consume outside.
 

bramling

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Joined
5 Mar 2012
Messages
13,632
Location
Hertfordshire / Teesdale
Several people have mentioned their first visits to the pub as the restrictions have eased, so I wondered if it is worth having a dedicated thread for members to share their experiences.

During the hot weather last week it was almost a Parisian experience in Doncaster (yes, I know), with many people sat outside on the street in bars. The council have encouraged this and gave over an area of one of their car parks to let a pub put tables there. I went to the Slug and Lettuce there earlier; if you haven’t got the NHS app, they enter your details on an iPad or a bit of paper. They will either take an order or direct you to their app if you want; cash is accepted.

All good until it started raining today, and they haven’t got a lot of covered outdoor space...

On a more general theme, a lot of pubs, especially in Sheffield, haven’t opened evidently due to a lack of outdoor space. But me and my mate are speculating...which ones will not open at all in May, for ever.

How about you?

We’ve had two meals since places became open again ... both takeaways which we had at home.

The whole thing is simply too much faff. We had a skin full of it when on holidays last year, all the bother of bookings and the like, that was irritating enough before having to be sat at a table in the middle of a pavement.

I yearn to be able to just turn up at somewhere like an Indian restaurant on something like a Monday night, and just be able to walk in!
 

Tezza1978

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Joined
22 May 2020
Messages
67
Location
Warrington
Had plenty of outdoor hospitality visits in the last few weeks - ranging from outdoor coffees for a business meeting, a family meal with my wife and youngest son and lots of evening outdoor meals /pints in London when I've been staying over for work. Generally all been positive, sensible with the restrictions and following the rules but not too pushy. The one bad experience was when I was meeting up with my parents in London at an "unnamed" London restaurant near Liverpool Street. Having been there once before for a working lunch pre pandemic - and checked the website on the preceding day where it confirmed "opening April 12th absolutely no reservations any day - first come first served" - we turned up, tried to sit down at an empty table outdoors and was told "all tables are reservation only" despite my protestations. Couldn't get a table anywhere else so resorted to a takeaway coffee at the station with them. Won't be visiting there again.
 

Cdd89

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Joined
8 Jan 2017
Messages
858
I’ve noticed a decrease in health theatre. For example real menus are back in about half the places visited previously that took them away, so are things like salt and pepper dispensers. The US standard of “wear a mask at your table except when actively eating” has never been enforced here, thank goodness. Track and trace, and masks walking to the table, are the major abnormalities; but they just represent a couple of minutes at the start of the experience.

All things considered restaurants are some of the most normal places where you can escape constant pandemic reminders for a bit (except for waiters in masks). I’ve done more than my fair share of outdoor eating and I’ve actually found it fine. Pubs rather less so. Sadly I won’t be visiting a pub (excluding pubs that are more restaurants, obviously) until I think the experience will be enjoyable, which in turn means crowded and convivial; being realistic, that probably means June.
 

yorksrob

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Joined
6 Aug 2009
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30,295
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Yorks
I've visited around 8 pubs since they've reopened.

The vast majority have, whilst adhering to the rules, been very relaxed and allowed walk-in trade. Waiter service hasn't been a problem and has generally been efficient. Only one required an app to order, which turned into a bit of a fiasco.

Both the York and Sheffield Taps have reopened and have reconfigured their outdoor space to enable more people to come in, which is very welcome.
 

davews

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Joined
24 Apr 2021
Messages
243
Location
Bracknell
Black Lion in Hammersmith yesterday my one and only experience to date. Was impressed. They have covered the huge carpark with four huge marquees. Write your own name and phone number on the sheet if you don't have a phone. Exempt lanyard for mask accepted almost with enthusiasm. Excellent food. Only drawback I had to keep my coat on and there was a bit of a cold breeze which made eating outside not that pleasant. And very friendly staff.

Other places I passed looked less tempting, and in one case far more covid notices than menus plastered on the windows. It obviously varies.
 

DelayRepay

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Joined
21 May 2011
Messages
1,641
One final point to consider: some of the restrictions are just inconsistent and bizarre. Earlier today, I went for a walk from Carlisle to Gretna, which is only a few miles but crosses the Scottish border. When I was having my lunch in England, the pub operated entirely on the basis of table service, yet when I had a post-walk pint in Scotland, I could go right up to the bar and order as normal (which was a lovely surprise)! Why can't the same be done in England - walking to the bar, ordering, and taking your pint to the beer garden is just much more civilised than hoping to catch a member of staff's attention (which can take ages in many cases).

I think we should be able to choose. Personally, for outside drinking I quite like table service. It reminds me of being abroad.

But I don't think it should be forced on us for health reasons.

I went to my local. I was trying to use the app to order when the landlady came over. She said 'don't bother with that, it doesn't work properly. I've only got it to keep the council happy. What would you like?' :lol:
 

kristiang85

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23 Jan 2018
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1,710
I met some friends last night on a whim in London, and we went to this quite eccentric bar tucked away down a back street. The owner was lovely, he didn't care that my friends were pretty smashed and that we were all clearly from different households - he said he was just happy to be open again.

Other places I've been to still have pretty strict rules, although its understandable given their licences depend on it, but hopefully this will die out soon as things become more relaxed.

Thankfully I've yet to see any black and yellow tape anywhere, which I grew to despise last year.

I just wish I could go out more often, but it's still so cold in the evenings its not pleasant. The High Court have also been giving Sacha Lord the runaround with his appeal for indoor opening, so I doubt that will advance now. However, I'm looking forward to seeing the government's evidence for treating hospitality like this and not other businesses.
 

WelshBluebird

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14 Jan 2010
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4,147
I've been to a few places over the last few weeks and I really don't understand why people seem to think it is all a faff. Maybe it is because I am part of a generation who is used to ordering things on my phone (and indeed did so in some pubs and restaurants that offered it before COVID was even a thing). Not sure, but I've found it fine!

The main problem as someone else said above is capacity and for the places that aren't doing bookings you just can't plan to actually go there for sure because you may not get a table. The landlord of one of the pubs I've been to a couple of times recently said for the first week they had queues outside from 4pm (they open at 5pm) and whilst that has tailed off since, the tables are still generally all taken within the first hour of opening. Hopefully indoor opening in 3 weeks time should help with that though (I don't see any reason why the indoor opening won't happen).

But in general it has been fine. Been nice to actually see friends after several months of not, and been nice to support to local places that need it (and been nice to see those local places busy too). And I've actually quite liked seeing a more "European" way of eating an drinking with tables out on the street and in town / city squares etc (even if that does only really work for us when the weather is nice) - I had a drink at a pub that normally doesn't have any outdoor area at the start of the week but they had been given permission by the council to use the small public square behind their building instead, really liked that and I think it is worth adding that I've been pleasantly surprised by how flexible some councils have been with giving permission for places to use public outdoor spaces for tables etc.
that we were all clearly from different households
Not sure why he would care - that isn't in the rules anymore for up to 6 people.
 

duncanp

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16 Aug 2012
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Birmingham/Smethwick
My experience has been mostly positive, once you make allowances for the silly rules forced on hospitality venues by the government.

The first pub I tried on April 12th insisted on payment through an App, which meant I couldn't come in as I don't have a smartphone. They tried to justify this rule by saying it was the "only way" they could operate with a large beer garden, and indoor payment not being allowed.

But other pubs I have visited since then have been able to take cash and card payments outdoors, so that excuse is a load of nonsense.

Some pubs I been to have been pretty "relaxed" about enforcing the Track & Trace rules, which shows they realise it is a load of ******** but have to do it to be seen to keep the COVID bullies from the police and local authority happy.

I was in London a couple of weeks ago, and got charged over £8 for one pint of beer at a place opposite Kings Cross station, which is not surprising as that area is Hipster Central, with prices to match.

At another pub in Birmingham, me and my brother ordered the old fashioned way by just asking the barmaid for what we wanted. Two guys at the adjoining table were trying to order via the App, and it took them at least 15 minutes, first because they had problems downloading the App to their phone, and then problems in actually using the App.

Despite all these issues, I am pleased to see the hospitality sector open, and am counting down the days until my local reopens in 17 days time.
 

Trackman

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28 Feb 2013
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1,678
Location
Lewisham
Yes, you are graciously "allowed" to go inside a pub to use the toilet.
It's madness isn't it?
I fancied a pint last weekend but it was booked up so went to the offy (where I could buy 4 pints compared to 1.25 at the pub!).
Just out of interest, anyone seen a price increase at their local? I've read about it online and in the papers about a leaked pubco memo, don't know if its fake news.
 

duncanp

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16 Aug 2012
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Birmingham/Smethwick
Just out of interest, anyone seen a price increase at their local? I've read about it online and in the papers about a leaked pubco memo, don't know if its fake news.

My local in Birmingham is putting up its prices by 10p a pint when it reopens on 17th May.

I suppose that is understandable after all they have been through over the last year or so, with loads of silly and nonsensical rules imposed on them by the government.

To be honest, I am jsut glad that they are going to reopen after being closed since November 4th, and I will be able to absorb the price increase.
 

WelshBluebird

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14 Jan 2010
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The first pub I tried on April 12th insisted on payment through an App, which meant I couldn't come in as I don't have a smartphone. They tried to justify this rule by saying it was the "only way" they could operate with a large beer garden, and indoor payment not being allowed.
Indoor payment is allowed though (this was specifically clarified more than 3 weeks ago now).
Just out of interest, anyone seen a price increase at their local? I've read about it online and in the papers about a leaked pubco memo, don't know if its fake news.
Seen that at some and not others.
I think aswell as the additional costs of a pub operating at the moment and the fact they haven't been able to be open for most of the last year, you also have to remember it has now been what, 14 months since pubs were last open "normally"? A price rise every year or two is pretty normal in my experience anyway even in normal times, but maybe that is just because I live somewhere where pubs are generally pretty expensive anyway (Bristol / Bath).
 

YorkshireBear

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23 Jul 2010
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8,163
Pretty happy overall. Some pubs just aren't set up for table service and it's taking them a while to bed in. To the extent we ordered two drinks each, each time. That just resulted in us all ending up in a state!

Have yet to eat outside but have drunk a few times.
 

PeterC

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29 Sep 2014
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3,283
Yep, not permitted in England, despite the fact you are 'allowed' to go into a mcdonalds, costa etc... to order and consume outside.
Two pubs in my village, both have closed their kitchens. My local is serving at the bar. Supposedly you take your drinks into the garden but there was a group of drinkers at the bar when I visited. The other, on the common, has a table across the door and table service only.

I'll be picking up a takeaway from the mobile chippie in my local's car park this evening. I'll be interested to see how they are managing.

I don't often go to a pub just to drink so I am more bothered by not being able to eat out. Before lockdown I would have at least one meal a fortnight in a pub or café.
 

52290

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23 Oct 2015
Messages
273
It's madness isn't it?
I fancied a pint last weekend but it was booked up so went to the offy (where I could buy 4 pints compared to 1.25 at the pub!).
Just out of interest, anyone seen a price increase at their local? I've read about it online and in the papers about a leaked pubco memo, don't know if its fake news.
But the pub is the only place where you can get real ale. If I was happy to drink cans of Budweiser or John Smith's I could go to Bargain Booze, a few yards from my house, and drink the horrible stuff within my own four walls, yuck!
 

kristiang85

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23 Jan 2018
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1,710
Just out of interest, anyone seen a price increase at their local? I've read about it online and in the papers about a leaked pubco memo, don't know if its fake news.

Depends on the place. My local seems to have dropped prices (!!) by a little, yet I was in a place the other day I used to frequent in London and it's lager was now £6.60 a pint.

The Euston Tap's prices were the same as before, and the place I went to later was £5 a pint so that was very reasonable.

I know Sam Smiths said they raised all their prices last summer to make up for the shortfall; I don't know if that's still in place?
 

greyman42

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14 Aug 2017
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3,045
Depends on the place. My local seems to have dropped prices (!!) by a little, yet I was in a place the other day I used to frequent in London and it's lager was now £6.60 a pint.
Where was that if you don't mind me asking?
 

yorksrob

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I get the feeling that most pubs are trying hard not to put their prices up, even though they're not making much of a profit.
 

Nicholas Lewis

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9 Aug 2019
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Surrey
I do like the table service after decades of trying to get served so happy to see this retained even if it means 10-20p/pt extra as this is what you would give as tip in most European countries.
 

ChiefPlanner

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6 Sep 2011
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Herts
I have only been to a local pub here in St Albans (The Mermaid) - quality pub which always had excellent beer and a decent garden which has been splendidly upgraded - a good experience and they have a tie up with a local curry house which delivers to any peckish drinkers.

They have had to take on 2 extra staff. Very enterprising and appreciated.
 

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