'Can't wait to see you again' - South Shields restaurants and pubs eagerly awaiting May 17 reopenings
Restaurants and pubs in South Shields are eagerly awaiting the return of customers as hospitality restrictions are eased on May 17.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the reopening date for indoor hospitality at a Downing Street press conference on Monday, May 10.
Popular Indian restaurant Delhi 6 on Ocean Road has been inundated with bookings ahead of reopening on Monday and around 500 people are set to visit during the first week of indoor dining.
Owner Shah Lalon Amin, 41, said he is ‘really excited’ for the business to be back open after being closed for six months.
He said: “We have 150 bookings in the first week [and] the first opening weekend is fully booked.
"It is just exciting to get back to doing what we normally do."
The popular restaurant has introduced a new menu and taken on three new staff members in the run up to reopening.
Safety measures such as plastic screens between tables will be in place and all staff have had their Covid-19 vaccines.
Throughout the lockdown, Delhi 6 has been running a takeaway service and many of those customers have been among those rushing to book a table.
"As soon as I saw the bookings come in, I was really happy to see regular customers because, at the end of the day, small businesses rely on the regular customers – so it is really heartwarming to see their support.”
The restaurant owner feels the vaccine roll out has played a big part in customers feeling confident enough to return.
"When the first lockdown was lifted – although we were getting a lot of bookings – there was a lot of hesitancy and at the last minute we were getting a lot of cancellations,” Lalon said.
"This time round, we are seeing a lot of confidence because of the vaccine.
"I think people are feeling more confident but I do appreciate that some of our customers won’t want to be coming out just yet, which is why our takeaway service is still in operation.”
Kath Brain, landlady of The Steamboat at Mill Dam, agreed the vaccine roll out has played a part in giving customers confidence to return, particularly among the older generation.
She said: "My oldest regular has not been out of the house in a year and he wouldn’t come out because his wife is vulnerable but now that they have both had the jab, he’s coming down as soon as he can.”
Kath is looking forward to seeing regular customers after being closed for several months under lockdown restrictions.
She said: "I am looking forward to it and seeing all the regulars again – it has been a long time coming.
"I have been in touch with customers the whole time [and] everyone is excited to get back in and get back to a bit of normality.”