‘Come on, England!’ Hospitality venues getting busier on Westside ahead of Euro 2020

As the UK steadily emerges from lockdown, Westside business leader MIKE OLLEY celebrates his birthday at a top restaurant and starts getting ready for England v Croatia.

Monday 17 May was a bit of a landmark for Westside and the hospitality sector in general. As most folks are aware, before this date we could only enjoy a drink or a meal outside. But now it’s no more teeth-chattering and into the warm we go!

Funnily enough, it was also my birthday, so I took myself off for a super posh meal at Bank on Brindleyplace. Ironically, we sat outside, well under cover with heaters blasting away. Yet the ambiance was brilliant. Fellow diners inside and around us made the restaurant work how it should. I did dine at Bank when it was only outside and whilst it was a great experience all those lonely, sad tables dressed with no-one to visit was just not the same.

As we travel the road map back to “normality” it’s worth reminding ourselves that we still have a distance to travel. I spoke to Sam Morgan at Craft (worth a visit, but do book early), in the ICC mall. His restaurant is operating at about 60% of capacity because of social distancing. Sam wants to keep his customers safe. That is a real cost to Sam.

Sam has been hammered over the last year. And I mean hammered. But Sam has survived on sheer wit and perseverance. Many others have also survived, the overwhelming majority in Westside, and they now need to generate income.

What is uber-refreshing is that the customers are just streaming back in. Clearly there is a bit of caution. Monday 17 May was not a deluge of customers. It was a solid start. Great to see. This weekend just gone has been brilliant. Most of our bars and restaurants at their new capacity. And our hotels are near as damn full. How brilliant is that?

But it’s not yet the old Broad Street pulsating with life until the dawn breaks as we know it. That is because the nightclubs are not operating as nightclubs. Music has to be at a volume so you can hold a conversation, table service only, masks on when you walk around please, and of course social distancing. But even with all these very sensible regulations, you know it’s working well.

Gosh, I almost forgot the Euro 2020 tournament. Not only is England favourite to win this year, but us footy fans are just bursting with excitement for the first England game. It’s a rematch of the 2018 World cup semi-final against Croatia.

We clearly was robbed and could have won the World Cup. However, just as we couldn’t have a second vote on leaving Europe, we couldn’t replay that game. Until Sunday 13 June that is. Broad Street venues tell me they are filling up fast, some have actually already sold out.

The future is bright, the future is ours, bring on the loosened regulations, bring on COVID-19 common sense, and come on England.

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