Wakefield reopening: 'The city is coming alive again and there's a real buzz about the place'
Wakefield bar owners have grabbed their opportunity to reopen with both hands as beer gardens welcomed guests on a sunny Monday.
Across the city centre people headed out shopping, drank coffee and had their first drinks outside.
Layla Baker reopened the outside of her bar Lobby 1867, on Westgate.
She said: "Over the last few months the city centre has been dead, there have been no commuters, no one in offices, no one going off to work in other cities, and the theatre has been closed - it's been a ghost town.
"But today the Great British weather is being kind to us and there's a real buzz around town."
"Over the weekend there were lots of people cleaning their shop frontages, wiping their front steps and watering plants - it was the city coming alive again."
Lobby 1867 has put on an outdoor warm drinks menu and encouraged people to try to enjoy the weather even if the sunshine doesn't remain.
Layla said: "Get your bobble hats on, your scarves, your gloves, come out and embrace it. There's no point in moaning about the weather - it is what it is.
"In Scandinavian countries they wrap up and have warm toasty drinks and it can be a good experience."
Layla took over Lobby in 2019 after working as a teacher for 20 years in Pontefract and Wakefield.
It left her with little time to work with the bar before the pandemic hit but she is optimistic about the coming year.
She said: "We're being positive and we hope that this is the last time lockdown will happen. And as the months goes by my is hope that freedoms will increase and we can get back to normal.
"We've got the Euros, which will be a big thing. I think people are ready to go out and it will be an amazing summer. If England do well it will really lift the nation's spirits.
"Even further forward Christmas this year could be a great celebration because people missed out on it last year.
"The theatre will be open again soon and we work closely with them for pre-show and interval drinks."
The bar is also working with neighbouring Italian restaurant La Dolce Vita on Smyth Street.
Layla's bar has no kitchen and the Italian restaurant has no outside space so the two businesses decided to team up.
Through an app people sitting outside of Lobby can order food from La Dolce Vita's menu that will then be brought over to their table.
Layla added: "It made sense to approach them because we all benefit. People don't just go out to visit one place they go out to an area."
It follow on from a similar idea at RBT Video on Northgate.
The videoshop/speakeasy bar is set to open its outside space in a car park under the name Lot for cocktails and food, teaming up with local restaurants who will provide food.
The owners are hoping it will create a food festival vibe.
More on that story here: An endless food and cocktail festival is coming to Wakefield in a car park hidden behind a bar