Tables fill at restaurants and pubs as bar serves 450 on reopening day
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
Delighted restaurant owners and pubs landlords finally saw tables filled - and even had to turn some customers away - as lockdown rules eased.
Hospitality businesses are, from Monday, now allowed to serve customers outdoors, with hopes pinned on being able to fully reopen indoors from May 17.
While there had been concerns success of reopenings would hinge on the weather, the chilly conditions of 9C didn't put people off, with many wrapping up in the spring sunshine to eat al fresco.
At the Rooftop Gardens, on Rose Lane, manager Glenn Walker enjoyed a busy brunch and lunch shift, with roughly 450 people booked in over the course of the day.
He said they'd taken on an extra 15 people to cope with the anticipated rush of spring, and said they were already fully booked for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"Today's gone really well," he said, "There's been a good flow of bookings - people seem to really be enjoying getting back to a slight bit of normality."
Among those enjoying lunch was Gemma Whiddett, who was catching up with colleagues who hadn't seen each other since Christmas.
She said they were marking missed birthdays and a leaving do, and had booked the table as soon as prime minister Boris Johnson made the announcement.
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At the Lamb Inn, in the city centre, demand outweighed capacity, with staff having to turn away customers by 1.30pm.
They said bookings were solid for the rest of the week.
Queues formed outside places to eat across the city, from national chains such as McDonald's to independents including Moorish Falafel, on Lower Goat Lane, and the coffee cart on London Street.
At the Sir Garnet, which reopened as both as a pub and a shop, staff were kept busy with food and drink orders as people enjoyed a seat overlooking the market.
Further outside Norwich, the pace of the rush slowed, and areas including George's Street took on a European café culture vibe as people enjoyed a leisurely lunch.
At The Last, chef Iain McCarten said it had been a day of mixed emotions.
"It feels great to be back," he said, "we've obviously really missed being here - it's gone well and it's been a bit of a shock to the system.
"We're eager to get stuck in, but we were all very nervous, trying to remember how we used to do it. It's gone well though and we've had some amazing feedback."
Its diners included Chris Cloke and Kelly Barrow, who had enjoyed a drink at the Garnet before moving to Last.
Mr Cloke, who had taken a half day, said: "It's just nice to see everywhere open and to see people - it's as busy as it was at Christmas."
And at the historic Maids Head Hotel, on Tombland, diners were enjoying the chance to eat under its floral canopy, with the team delighted to be welcoming back customers.