'There's been an electric buzz' - Wakefield bars and restaurants welcome customers back inside
Though a lot of Wakefield’s pubs, bars and restaurants have made the most of al fresco eating and drinking since restrictions were lifted last month having customers back inside was always going to be big step.
Like in any city, space to put tables outside is at a premium and the rain over the past couple of weeks hasn’t helped.
This week’s milestone change to the rules as customers are allowed back inside their favourite pubs and eateries could be a lifeline for businesses.
And for places without outside space it has meant a first return to business since the lockdown.
Jenny Thompson owns Cuban restaurant Qubana, pizza place Fino and Pacific grill restaurant Robatary, on Wood Street and Northgate.
She said: “All three opened their doors on Monday after more than six months of no customers inside.
“The buzz around the places was electric and our team are so happy to be able to serve customers inside again. It’s like a glimpse of what normality looks like.” Dorota Jaslarz owns Babsi Bar and Restaurant on Kirkgate, which is reopening today and fully booked.
She said: “As of Friday, we have probably half of tables available and we’re not sure how it will go but we believe people are just tired of being locked down in their houses so we expecting to be busy.
“Thanks to the Government’s support we could now afford light refurbishment and some new equipment. We have our fingers crossed.”
The Railway pub – formerly the Last Orders – in Featherstone has reopened its doors after a refurbishment, having hosted customers outside since April 12.
The pub’s landlord, former Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers player Harold Box, said: “Even before we were allowed inside it’s been really busy.
“We can fit about 130 or 140 people in the beer garden and people have just been glad to get back in the pubs.
“We’ve even had the beer garden full or half full when the weather has been shocking.
“But Monday was a massive day and people were curious how we had the pub refitted.
“Plus there was a Rovers match on so it was full inside and outside.
“Now, hopefully, we can still stick to the next date in June.
“We’re looking forward to getting to something like normal where people can come up to the bar to get served.”
It was a similar story at Harry’s Bar off Westgate in the city centre with staff looking forward to the next big date on the roadmap.
Landlady Louise Waters said “I’m most looking forward to June 21 when hopefully restrictions end and we can take the screens down and Harry’s can get its atmosphere back.”
Cinemas are also allowed to reopen under the new rules.
Daniel Sharp, manager of the Reel Cinema in the Ridings, said: “We really appreciate the patience of our customers and our staff during these challenging times – we can’t express enough how delighted we are to finally re-open our cinema doors to everyone.
“On top of that we have a great range of new films to watch.”
Attractions in the district have also opened their doors again.
The National Coal Mining Museum will have a staggered return to business from this week and over the next few months. More on the NCM is available on our website.
And the mansion house at Nostell is open again.
See our website for more on businesses that are reopening.
And if you’re one of them then let us know..’