Back in business: How is the hospitality sector in Bury St Edmunds faring?
Eateries, bars and pubs in Bury St Edmunds have shared a mixed reaction upon reopening after months of forced closure due to coronavirus.
The hospitality sector reopened on July 4 on ‘Super Saturday’, having to contend with new guidelines, and while some establishments have shared optimism on how business has been since reopening, the impact of three months of closed doors followed by new restrictions after business started back up has been ‘substantial’ for others.
David Marjoram, who owns Gusto Pronto – a collection of pubs and brewers in Suffolk – opened up on the impact the pandemic had had on his business.
He said where there were outside areas at his establishments, he was operating at a maximum of 60 per cent capacity. In those where he didn’t, the percentage was lower.
When it comes to people not being able to eat out, he said: “Customers just don’t realise the impact it’s having on the industry.”
He said there were no more cancellations than usual but that because they were operating at reduced capacity across the board, those missed bookings were felt harder.
Shaun Driscoll, who owns The Mason’s Arms, in Whiting Street, said the new Eat Out to Help Out government scheme had been ‘beneficial’ and business had been ‘better than expected’.
However, he said he was still only operating at 40 per cent capacity and had had to take on three extra members of staff to ensure the pub was operating safely.
Despite having an outdoor area, he said the pandemic had created a ‘substantial drain on business’.
While the impact has been felt across the board, for others just getting back to work was a relief.
Zack Deakin, owner of 1921 on Angel Hill which reopened on the 4th July, said: “I was just desperate to get on with it really. I
“I missed being in the kitchen, I missed being at work so I thought there was no time like the present and to just get on with it.”
Zack said he was ‘prepared for the worst’ but business had been steady throughout the week.
Justin Sharp, who co-owns Pea Porridge, in Cannon Street, with his wife Jurga decided to open just on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and welcomed their first guests back last week.
He said: “It was extraordinary to be fair.
“We were inundated and it was a real busy, busy, busy weekend.”
Co-owner of Gastrono-me in Abbeygate Street, Gemma Simmonite said: "We are operating a 77 per cent seating capacity in the restaurant compared to last year.
"Clearly the scheme is having an incredible effect Monday-Wednesday as against the same period last year, we are 189% up, thank you Rishi!