Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Cafe owners pleased to be back in business but some

Cafe owners pleased to be back in business but some

CAFES will be open again tomorrow.

Some partially re-opened last month when the lockdown restrictiomns were eased so they could provide takeaways.

But now they can admit customers provided they make their premises safe and ensure people follow the “one-metre plus” social distancing rule.

Businesses have taken steps to comply with the latest government advice by purchasing extra PPE and changing the layout of the premises.

All hospitality indoors will be table service only and customers will have to give their contact details when they enter. The number of visitors allowed on site will have to be capped.

Lorraine Hillier, who runs Hot Gossip in Reading Road, said: “I have ordered screens to put between the tables and at the counter. I have limited space and if there is less than 1m between tables you can put in screens to make sure people are safe. We will just do the best we can.

“I am trying to be sensible and it is quite an expense to have to buy all of this equipment.

“I will have reduced staff initially. I have some who are on furlough and they will be able to come back part-time. We will start with three of us and see how it goes.

“The Government has decided on a Saturday, which is the worst scenario because that is normally our busiest day and we were hoping to ease into it. We might slightly reduce the menu so that we are more efficient.”

The café will be open from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays, 9am to 5.30pm on Saturdays and 10am to 4pm on Sundays. Customers will be asked to use the hand sanitiser station when they enter.

There will be a limited amount of seating available indoors but there is a small garden outside.

Miss Hillier, who is a town councillor, added: “We are fortunate because people will always want food and drink but it has been a hard time for retailers.

“We need each other and a café is not successful without the retail element. I think when the pubs and restaurants come back it will be a good thing.”

Berries Coffee in Hart Street has been providing a takeaway service since May and is open from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm at weekends.

Owner Lawrence Tian said: “We look forward to re-opening but we will have to have reduced seating. We will probably only be allowed to have eight tables.

“There will be some challenges and people will have to be patient.

“When we do takeaways, we don’t have to clean the tables and it is much faster to serve customers. Now we have to make sure we are regularly cleaning the surfaces.

“All of our staff will be back from furlough and I think this will be a big help for our business and the rest of Henley.”

Vivienne Lee, owner of the Chocolate Café in Thames Side, has decided not to fully re-open yet.

She is operating a takeaway service, which is available from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 10am at 6pm on weekends.

She said: “I have been open for takeaways since June 19 and we have had amazing support from our customers.

“I am just going to stay as I am for now. I am waiting for more guidelines and I don’t know how to work out how many tables I can have with the ‘one metre-plus’ rule.

“I want to wait for the rate of infection to come down and make sure that my staff are safe before we go to the next level.”

She has 10 members of staff who have been divided into two groups working split shifts, one week at a time.

Spoon café in Duke Street has been offering a takeaway service for the last two weeks.

Cindy Gillett, the company director, says indoor seating will be reduced by up to half to ensure the tables can be spaced out. She said: “Luckily, we have some outside tables and with the weather we have been having people have been getting their takeaways and then eating it outside. It feels like a bit of normality.

“We are trying not to encourage large groups, which has been really successful.

“Business has been really good and we have sold out of things most days. It has been lovely seeing all our regulars again and having a chat. Each day seems to be getting busier and busier but coming back on a Saturday does make it harder. We would have preferred to have Monday to try to find our feet.

“We will just knuckle down and get on with it. There might be people who are not ready to come out yet and there will be some who can’t wait.”

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