Strong Saturday for bars and businesses in Birmingham’s Westside

BAR and restaurant managers on Birmingham’s Golden Mile have praised customers for acting responsibly as they reported a promising second Saturday (11 July) of opening after lockdown.

Just one week after restrictions were eased and bars and venues were allowed to reopen, managers say customers are returning to enjoy the atmosphere around Broad Street and BrindleyPlace.

Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said he was delighted to see orderly queues outside venues, indicating that businesses were fully booked and in demand.

“It was very encouraging to see that most of our venues were at capacity or close to it,” he said. “Walking around Westside, I was left in no doubt that Birmingham is back in business.”

Dan Wilson, general manager of The Canal House, thanked customers for booking and behaving responsibly.

“The response we’ve had has been brilliant,” said Dan. “We were full all day yesterday and it was a really nice atmosphere. The customers were amazing and I’d like to thank everyone who turned up and behaved responsibly.

“People have responded really well to our new measures. We have a one-way system in place and paper menus that can be thrown away after each use. All our staff wear masks or face shields and we are encouraging customers to order via our app.”

Steve Emmison, at Velvet Music Rooms, said the venue was restricted to 130 customers at any one time because of the need for social distancing, but that they had welcomed up to 350 people throughout the day and that at peak times they were full.

“We’re pleased with Saturday – we’re off to a very good start,” he said. “We’re only operating table service at the moment and at peak times there were no seats available. We were absolutely full.

“Customer and staff safety are paramount and we’re all working very hard to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable. We’ve got table service only at the moment, with screens at the bar and between our distanced tables, and our customers are going where they are sent.

“When we explain the new rules they follow them, and if anyone forgets we quickly remind them and they’re happy to do their bit.”

Dave Murphy, at the Malt House pub, said that the bar had only been open since Monday but he was confident that business was already improving.

He said: “We’ve lost 40 per cent of our capacity because of social distancing but we’re pretty busy with the tables we have open. Our trade can be weather driven, but after a rainy week the weather really picked up yesterday and with the Sea Life Centre open again, things are getting better.

“People like to pop in for a pint or a bite to eat as they pass by and we had around 1,000 customers yesterday. We’ve introduced safety measures like perspex at the bar, table service and we have an ordering app. People can sign up to track-and-trace as they enter and I think it makes everyone feel more comfortable.

“Confidence is coming back and it’s all about getting people back through that door. We’re doing everything we can to improve the experience for our guests.”

PICTURE: Socially-distanced customers outside the Coyote Ugly saloon in Broad Street, Birmingham

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