A recent report in the Manchester Evening News stated the people are ‘biting our arm off’ for a table as demand has outstripped that during the governments ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme last year. In less than two weeks’ time, if the road map goes according to plan, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen their outside spaces.
For hospitality businesses in Grater Manchester, it will be the first time they’ve been able to have customers back since November. It’s the longest period of time that most have been closed since the pandemic started, due to last year’s ‘tier system’ forcing closure even before the current national lockdown started. With many places already booked throughout April and well into May, local operators say they have been ‘blown away’ by the number of bookings. The demand is so great that anyone wanting to visit 20 Stories restaurant/cocktail bar in Spinningfields, for example, on a Saturday night will have to wait till mid-June.
Despite the restrictions in place – and the unpredictable Mancunian weather, table reservations at most city centre venues have disappeared throughout April.
Tim Reynolds is director of operations at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, which is home to The Refuge restaurant. He said: “We opened bookings Monday 15th March at 7pm and I would say it was chaos. It’s a lot busier than we expected and there’s a lot more enthusiasm than we expected”.
He continued, “I think if you want to come on a Tuesday in the first week of May, you might have a chance. It’s absolutely chocka for the first few weeks. It shows a huge amount of confidence in what we do and a huge amount of people wanting to get back to normal and wanting to support restaurants and bars. It’s really encouraging.”
Hospitality operators also say that people “are biting our arms off” to get even mid-week, mid-afternoon slots, with people even taking time off work to return to the pub for a pint.
Sadly, not all businesses in Manchester will reopen on 12th April as many have decided to close for good. Burdened with debt, rent arrears, tax liabilities and no income for over 4 months many have decided to throw in the towel.
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Written by Luke Harris