Harrogate cafes excited for a big revival as reopening date nears
Cafe culture is to return to Harrogate from Monday after four months as the hospitality sector begins to reopen - but the question is whether there will be a pent-up demand from people fed up of being stuck in doors?
Most cafe owners the Harrogate Advertiser spoke to were confident there would be a warm welcome on April 12, pointing to the popularity with the local public of takeaway coffees in the town centre after the Government introduced the third lockdown in early January.
Peter Woolrich, co-owner of Cold Bath Deli, which first opened on Cold Bath Road in 2018, said the business had kept going throughout and was confident of seeing a bounce when the rules changed next week.
Mr Woolrich said: “Our doors have remained open, albeit doing take away, right the way through lockdown and we’ll continue to provide our customers with what they want.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand from people wanting to get out of the house and into a different social environment.”
Harrogate’s independent cafe scene had been one of the town’s most flourishing sectors before Covid struck and its brightest names are keen to capitalise on the reopening of society.
Paul Rawlinson, owner of the Scandi-inspired Baltzersens cafe on Oxford Street has been more pro-active during the pandemic than most.
The last 12 months have seen him open three new businesses - its own artisan bakery on Springfield Farm in Kettlesing, Bakeri Baltzersen Shop on Oxford Street and Bakeri Baltzersen Pop-up Shop at the Market Place in Knaresborough.
Mr Rawlinson said: “We’re really pleased with how things have been going in the bakery shops.
“Our experience with the Harrogate shop in particular has shown us that there is demand for our bakery products.
“We are excited to be reopening on April 12 with benches available in our outside area. It’ll be a case of finding a table, ordering at the coffee shop window and then we’ll bring the order out.”
The coronavirus crisis may have affected all aspects of everyday life, while cafes have been one of the few businesses that can still operate during the UK lockdown.
The varying restrictions and rules have also meant that many cafe owners have become accustomed to completely rethink how to do business.
Thinking on their feet has become second nature to businesses like Grön cafe, which was launched on Royal Parade in Harrogate by Masterchef finalist Matt Healy.
Priding itself on offering and promoting clean, healthy eating, staff have been preparing with a new menu and cocktails for Monday’s reopening.
Another recent addition to the scene, Hustle & Co, was opened by two friends Nici Routledge and Jo Bradshaw, before Christmas at the former Filmore & Union restaurant premises on Prince Albert Row on Station Parade.
This passionate team are brimming with positivity over the possible impact of stage two rules of Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson’s roadmap.
Nici Routledge said: “We would like to give our sincere thanks for the support everyone showed us on our first 20-plus days of opening back in December.
“We’re now counting the sleeps to reopening on Monday. As a small, independent start-up business, we’re very aware of our reliance on our loyal customers to support us.
“It means so much when they choose to visit us. It’s like a vote with their money and they’ve cast a vote with us.”
Although delighted to be back, Harrogate’s cafe culture will have to remain outdoors until stage three of the roadmap arrives on May 17 - provided all goes well.
The losers in the new scenario facing the hospitality sector as a whole will be the ones with litte or no access to outdoor spaces, which affects popular local cafes such as Hoxton North on Royal Parade which told the Harrogate Advertiser it had no plans to reopen until stage three of the roadmap on May 17.
Those better placed in terms of space when stage two hits are already working hard to make the most of it.
Grön cafe will have outside tables, as will many others including Hustle & Co, Baltzersens and Cold Bath Deli whose ‘secret garden’ is expected to prove popular.
To the owner of Bean & Bud on Commercial Street, it’s as if the new rules are bringing the warmth of much better days to come.
If only the British weather would play its part.
Bean & Bud’s Phil Dolby said: “We have been open for a couple of weeks providing takeaway and the signs since have been good - our customers are coming back, and we’ve been able to get our staff off furlough.
“We’re hoping that there are no hitches, or further lockdowns and that the gradual reopening will result in a good spring and summer season.
“We just need some decent weather of course!”
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