Picnic benches, outdoor space and a retractable roof - how pubs are preparing to welcome back customers

George’s Bistro & Bar in Cleckheaton is expecting “mayhem” when it re-opens on April 12 – but in a good way!

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 1:00 pm
The new retractable roof at the West Riding pub at Dewsbury rail station

General manager Andy Hedley said the venue’s Facebook page had been inundated and 850 bookings had been taken for the first week alone. The Monday was soon fully booked.

George’s, on Parkside, has a new executive head chef in Darren Collinson and aims to build on its growing reputation for a la carte fine dining.

There is an outdoor eating space and a separate beer garden that will seat 200 people, all socially-distanced, and new picnic benches have been brought in.

“It’s going to be mayhem from day one,” said Andy. “We are doing everything we can to prepare but there’s only so much you can do – all we want is some sunny weather. It’s going to be crazy.”

In Dewsbury, the West Riding pub outside the railway station hopes the pace will be a bit more sedate. It will be walk-ups for tables in the beer garden and out front.

Operations manager Barry Shaw said: “We want to keep it as a pub as far as possible and we know people are keen to start socialising again. Having a pint on Zoom isn’t the same!”

The weather is the big unknown but the West Riding has a retractable roof on its beer garden.

Barry said: “Even socially-distanced we have 10-12 tables in the open or under cover and we are confident we can keep people comfortable whatever the weather.”

Kirklees Council has said it could use outdoor spaces in Dewsbury and Batley town centres as pop-up hospitality areas.

Plans are still being worked up but they could feature tables and chairs and some protection from the elements. There would also be social distancing and security measures in place to keep everyone safe.

Coun Peter McBride, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We know that for some of our bars, cafes and restaurants the lack of outside space will be a major concern when it comes to deciding whether to re-open, so we want to offer them a safe alternative.”