Preparations are in full flow at Velvet Music Rooms in Birmingham as the countdown continues to Monday 17 May, when all hospitality venues can welcome back indoor guests.
The popular Westside meeting place on Broad Street has been ensuring all its COVID-19 restrictions, such as socially distanced tables and hand sanitisers, are fully in place.
But the city’s largest independent sports bar, restaurant and nightclub but has gone a step further by installing new additional entrance doors.
Eilis Collins, who owns and runs Velvet with her sister Dani Hadley, said: “We are re-looking at all of our tables and seating plans, even though we prided ourselves on the measures we brought in when we previously reopened last summer.
“We really reduced our table capacity to make sure customers had that extra little space so they could feel safe and comfortable inside, and also introduced protective screens for bar staff.
“But in readiness for 17 May we are also investing quite a bit back into the bar. We are building a couple of extra concertina doors, like large glass windows, at the entrance so we can increase the airflow inside in the better weather.”
Velvet Music Rooms, which has retained all 18 staff throughout the pandemic, was able to create an outdoor space for customers when COVID restrictions were previously eased to allow outside guests on 12 April.
Eilis explained: “We erected three covers, like circus top tents, on the footpath outside to welcome back guests after lockdown.
“It has been really good, much better than we forecast. The first two weeks we were blessed with really good weather, and it’s still going well now even though it’s turned colder.
“Everyone is still quite keen to help in rebooting hospitality.”
Velvet Music Rooms, renowned for its live music, is planning a major celebration to mark the return of indoor dining and drinking.
Eilis said: “We are putting together an entertainments programme for that first weekend, 21 and 22 May.
“We want to open with a lot of celebration so there will be live music on the Friday evening and we will also welcome back some of our resident DJs.”
And plans are also in hand to show the postponed Euro 2020 football championships this summer.
Eilis added: “We are really excited about the Euros and have put up lots of new screens around the venue, including outside.”
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: “Everyone at Velvet Music Rooms has been so positive and enthusiastic throughout the lockdowns, always determined to be as creative as possible to keep their business going and their customers informed.
“Here at the BID we’ve been proud to support their efforts, and they really are a shining example of how a hospitality venue can survive COVID-19.
“We’re expecting them to be one of the busiest places to visit this spring and summer.”
● While customers can walk in at Velvet if there’s space, it might be best to book a table here https://velvetmusicrooms.com/bookings/
Pictures by Jolly Media
By Tony Collins