Sunday, 16 May 2021

Mill restaurant set to re-open before theatre

Mill restaurant set to re-open before theatre

THE restaurant at The Mill at Sonning will re-open on July 29 but the theatre will remain closed for now.

Theatres were allowed to open again on Saturday, together with cinemas, pubs and restaurants, but live performances are still not permitted.

However, the Mill wants more time to train staff and make sure the restaurant is safe for customers.

Seating will be reduced, meaning up to 60 people will be allowed in and there will be an à la carte menu rather than the traditional buffet dining.

Sally Hughes, managing director and artistic director of the venue, said: “We wanted to give ourselves enough time to train the staff and make sure everything was safe for customers. I am just being very cautious about everything.

“There will be a side table so that the waiter or waitress can put things down there instead of leaning over to put it on the table.

“There will only be up to 60 people and usually we are feeding 217. We may have reduced staff but that is something we need to work out.

“We are on two floors and there is quite a lot of space, so I don’t think we will need to have screens but we will if it is necessary. We are going to try to keep to the 2m rule as much as possible.

“It is a beautiful restaurant overlooking the river and it is an opportunity to get used to the ‘new normal’ and hopefully customers will come. When we do re-open, we will be serving our famous steak pie.”

Staff will remain on furlough until the restaurant re-opens.

Mrs Hughes said the last four months had been a hard time for The Mill, with no income from shows.

She added: “People are desperate to come back and watch a show. I have got some plans in place so that when we can open we are ready but that will all have to be with social distancing in the theatre.

“We haven’t had the go-ahead yet from the Government and it is too difficult to predict what that will happen at the moment.

“It could be in the autumn and that is when I am hoping it will be but it all depends on what happens with the virus. I want The Mill to be as safe as possible and that is why we are being very cautious.

“We have had some amazing donations from people and lots of actors have contributed poems, songs and funny stories in exchange for a donation.

“George and Amal Clooney gave us a very nice donation and have been very supportive with lots of good wishes that we would be all right.

“The first month after we closed was absolutely dreadful but now I feel we are in a very good position and I hope opening the restaurant will help keep things ticking over.”

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