‘It felt more continental’ - how Norwich restaurants fared on first day back
- Credit: Archant
Norwich’s restaurants enjoyed a calm return to trade on Saturday, as they opened their doors to customers with a host of new rules in place.
On Saturday, July 4, bars, restaurants, pubs and cafés were allowed to reopen to the public, after more than three months of lockdown.
Owners hoped customers wouldn’t be deterred by new social distancing rules, and Norwich restaurateurs said it was a steady, but calm, return to business.
Terry Hughes, one of the partners at the Belgian Monk, in Pottergate, said while they had been fully booked on Saturday evening, fewer tables meant they saw about half the customers they normally would, with trade coming in waves which were partly led by the weather.
“We had a good atmosphere - it started off with no-one really talking but the atmosphere did pick up,” he said. “It was nice to be back, but it was strange for the staff and from a customer point of view. Having table service in the courtyard made it feel more continental.”
He said the Test and Trace system - where owners record customers’ details in case of an outbreak - slowed things down, but that people were happy to oblige.
Jorge Santos, who runs Jorge’s Portugese restaurant in Orford Yard, said it had been a relief to finally return to work, and that they had been fully booked for lunch and dinner.
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“It was really good,” he said. “We had created space and taken out tables, so I think people felt safe when they were in as they were further apart from everybody else. For us, it was really exciting to see everybody enjoying themselves.
“We can’t talk as much with guests because as much as possible we are staying away from the tables, so our service is totally different.”
And Brad Baxter, who runs Gonzo’s Tearoom and Brix and Bones, a steakhouse and breakfast restaurant which opened for breakfasts just before lockdown kicked in, said it had been a slow start at the London Street venues on Saturday morning, but that by the afternoon it became much busier.
“Everybody was super understanding,” he said. “It wasn’t sunny on Saturday so we couldn’t get the roof open, but it probably helped us find our feet. On Sunday it was nicer weather so we could, which felt really nice.”