Hospitality in 2021 - how it's going a week on...
As soon as the Government announced their plans for the UK’s reopening, with their new roadmap, our business began planning for reopening on the 12th April. Getting multiple venues back open, not to mention setting a lot of spaces up for outdoor service for the first time ever, was no easy feat, but our team pulled together and come the 12th April all but one of our venues was ready to reopen their doors. Here we round up our thoughts on how it’s been...just over a week on...
First and foremost we’ve got to say a huge thank you to each and every person who came out to support us. We’ve been amazed at how busy we’ve been since reopening, with over 6500 people served at our six venues which have opened with outdoor seating, including The Milk Thistle, The Ox in Bristol and Cheltenham, Bambalan, Seven Lucky Gods and Four Wise Monkeys.
Taking it alfresco!
Bambalan, which has 200 covers of outdoor seating (120 covered) has been the busiest of our sites. The staff have coped really well with the sudden transition from no business to the busiest week we’ve ever had - up by 25%. Obviously being that busy throws up problems but we’re lucky to have a pretty robust booking system, and are taking card details which will be charged at £10 a head in the event of a no show. This has virtually eliminated the uncommitted bookings; an industry wide problem, and has allowed us to operate at a high capacity without losing last minute table bookings. We are now almost fully booked on Saturdays for the next four weeks, although if the weather is good we always reserve a few uncovered tables for walk ins.
Seven Lucky Gods had also been exceptionally busy, given its covered terrace area holds only 30 people. We are following the same booking principles as we are at Bambalan and are now full most Saturdays until mid May when we are reopening the indoor seating area. We are able to serve our food to go if we don’t have room and many customers are taking away to sit on the Harbourside and enjoy some exceptional sushi & small plates!
Something new in the Old City...
The sites in the newly pedestrianised Old City have also done well in their first week, considering both venues had to create brand new outdoor seating areas to allow them to open within the Government guidelines. A lot of man-power goes into creating covered terraces and taking them back down everyday, so it’s been brilliant to see so many people showing up to dine with us as well as our teams taking it in their stride so well!
The Ox, which has 30 seats with cover and heating has been back to serving up their award winning steaks, this time complemented with some new dishes designed to be enjoyed out in the open (including Grilled scallops in the shell with Cafe de Paris butter, Charcoal roasted Wild Atlantic Prawns with Yuzu olive oil, Fillet Steak sandwich with mayo, mustard, balsamic onion confit & watercress). We’ve also adapted the wine list to include a few more bottles of white wine, Rose & Champagne to drink in the sun.
Four Wise Monkeys (formerly Pata Negra) has 70 covers outdoors (50 covered and heated) across St Stephens street, Corn Street & St Nicholas Street. We were only trading for a month last October before lockdown 2.0 was imposed so we’re excited about being up and running again. It’s been great to see so many new customers coming down to try our menu of Pan-Asian diner style dishes for the first time!
The Milk Thistle now has a covered area, overlooking the city centre which gets the late afternoon sun and allows us to serve 30 people outdoors. Whilst the true essence of the Milk Thistle is in the building itself and cosying up in a booth to escape the hustle & bustle of the city centre, we’ve loved being able to serve up our famous cocktails alfresco (something we never thought we’d ever have to do!), but it goes without saying that we can’t wait to be able to start reopening indoors.
Fingers crossed for the roadmap all going to plan, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all again very soon!