'We are ready for the off' - says South Shields fish and chip restaurant boss in road map response
The boss of a leading fish and chip restaurant business says “we are ready for the off” following confirmation of the provisional road map out of lockdown.
Richard Ord, director of Colmans, in Ocean Road, South Shields, has called the Government’s decision to potentially reopen hospitality businesses to indoor customers from May 17 as “light at the end of the tunnel”.
The firm will also hold a meeting shortly to discuss recruiting more staff and to decide whether or not to open an outdoor seating area for diners at its Colmans Seafood Temple, in the town’s Sea Road, from April 12.
Mr Ord, who was awarded an MBE in the latest New Year Honours for his services to the hospitality industry, responded to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s road map announcement on Monday, February 22, by saying: “We are delighted and just happy to get some positive news after the last 12 months.
"We obviously hoped everything would be sooner. But if these dates save us from having to go into another lockdown then it will be worthwhile.
"Let us get it right and get back to normality.
"It is soul destroying to walk into an empty restaurant so it will be wonderful to see everyone back inside enjoying themselves. We are ready for the off.”
He has now added: “We have had a time, and have had to make savings, but we have got through it and I’d just like to thank everyone who has continued to support us through our takeaway services, everyone.
"The takeaway services have been a lifeline and everyone has been fantastic.”
Meanwhile, a South Tyneside pub landlord feels he may delay reopening his own premises until May 17.
Bars, like restaurants, are potentially able to open outdoor seating areas to customers from April 12.
But Lee Hughes, who runs the Red Hackle pub, on Jarrow’s Scotch Estate, said: “Opening the beer gardens first for a month is a sticky wicket for a lot of pubs.
"If you can’t let people in the pub then you can’t let people in the toilets so as well as extra tables you would have to order in some portable toilets.
"I don’t believe they are that expensive but it is still another expense and we have gone through all our savings as it is.
"They are not every personal either.”
Mr Hughes, 50, who has run the wet-led pub for nearly 16 years, added: "What do you also do if it rains and you suddenly have people wanting to get inside?
"I think it is likely that we will wait until May 17 when some customers will be allowed to sit back inside and the weather is starting to get even better.
"So hopefully we are not too far away from welcoming back the community and getting back to where we were 12 months ago.”