Pubs delighted to reopen but urge public to comply with each premises' new rules for staff and customer safety
Woohoo! All pubs and restaurants can reopen from Saturday July 4th with social distancing reduced to one metre plus and customers asked to comply with stringent safety measures, recommended by each venue.
Tring pub group, Oakman Inns, numbers several local hostelries: The Akeman Inn at Kingswood, the Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne, The Akeman in Tring, The Red Lion at Water End and The Kings Arms in Berkhamsted among its portfolio and has not been idle during the pandemic lock-down. Their senior management has been offering the Government advice and guidance on a safe reopening.
And last month they modified two of their pubs, the Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne and The Akeman in Tring, to demonstrate how a post-pandemic pub might operate safely, while the manager of the Cherry Tree in Olney, another of the group’s pubs, has been cooking up a storm during lockdown and selling takeaways with profits going to local charities.
Oakman Inns’ CEO, Peter Borg-Neal, said: “There is substantial public enthusiasm for us to reopen but as we have already taken more than 4,500 bookings for July 4th and two of our 28 pubs are already fully booked, we are urging customers to reserve a table in advance and not just turn up. We have taken the decision that guests will need to be seated to be served, whether they are coming for a drink or a meal. Of course, reduced capacity will impact on us as a business, but it also allows us to focus on ensuring that all the safety measures for our guests and staff are in place. We will also be looking to take advantage of using pavements for additional outdoor seating, where Councils allow.”
Once on the premises, (whether booked inside or in the garden) safety measures will include one-way systems, hand sanitiser stations, disposable menus and glazed screens between tables. There will also be staff guiding guests on social distancing, preventing movement between tables and controlling toilet access. To reduce contact with waiting staff, guests are being encouraged to download Oakman Inns’ new ‘Order & Pay’ App before they arrive so that they can order food and drinks from their phone without leaving their table. The Oakman App which is available in the Apple Store (www.tinyurl.com/oakmanapple) and Google Play (www.tinyurl.com/oakmanandroid also allows guests to find their nearest Oakman Inn.
The group’s Chef Director, Ross Pike, has also been busy redesigning menus and kitchen workflows, so that a safe environment can be maintained with the required physical distancing enforced between the chefs. “Unfortunately, a couple of old favourites have had to be left out of our new Spring/Summer menu,” Ross commented. “but it maintains our focus on healthy, freshly prepared, sustainably sourced dishes with a Mediterranean emphasis. Our popular hand-crafted Neapolitan wood-fired Pizzas using our unique pizza dough recipe as well as favourites from the Josper grill will still be available. In addition, I’m very excited about introducing some regional Italian pasta recipes, together with some new vegetarian and vegan options. We hope this means that friends, family and every combination of household and food preferences can enjoy a truly delicious meal together.”
Peter Borg-Neal added: “We now need to get on with rebuilding our pub group, retrain and take care of our 1,000 staff, support our suppliers and communities and continue to look out for all our friends and neighbours. Apart from our reopening, my greatest delight, is that two households can meet inside or outside. It will be part of the normalisation process that will help bring the country back together, as families, friends and neighbours are able to meet up outside their homes and also celebrate birthdays and anniversaries that have been on hold.”
To find your nearest Oakman Inn, visit www.oakmaninns.co.uk/venues or download the Oakman App which is available in the Apple Store (www.tinyurl.com/oakmanapple) and on Google Play (www.tinyurl.com/oakmanandroid).
Advance reservations are advised and can be made via each pub’s website or by phone.