'Footfall is key' when bars reopen in Harrogate say landlords

Harrogate's hospitality sector would not be reopening if the 2m rule had not been relaxed, say some of the town's leading pub landlords and licensees - that's how key footfall is to the industry.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 4:18 pm
John Quinlan, landlord of the Three's a Crowd pub in Harrogate (Picture Gerard Binks Photographer)

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing this week that pubs can finally reopen from July 4, we asked three of Harrogate’s bar owners their thoughts on the challenges which lie ahead in post-lockdown pubs.

John Quinlan, Three’s a Crowd, West Park

“We are looking forward to the possibility of opening again and serving our guests.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

“Relaxing the two metre rule for social distancing is integral to our business being able to reach the turnover required to be profitable.

"If it had remained at two metres then most hospitality business would have struggled to reopen.

“We have done our research on reduced capacity and turnover and we will need a return to normal footfall asap to continue our successful business to date.

“We have spent a lot of time discussing the social distancing rules and extreme cleanliness of our business with our H&S consultants and we are ready. We have to adapt and prepare for a new normal.”

Simon Cotton, MD of HRH Group which runs The Fat Badger and White Hart and The Yorkshire hotels

“We are excited, awakened, fired up and raring to go! I’m passionate about hospitality and the fact that our business never sleeps, so this pandemic has hit us hard. The thought that we can get going with a good amount of the summer hopefully still ahead of us is fantastic news.

“The one metre ruling is a real game-changer. It’s not just the huge difference it will make to the revenue that we can generate by increased footfall, but it impacts on how many more staff we’ll need. More customers, more staff, therefore more of our team that we can bring back from furlough, therefore taking another step toward normality. This obviously helps reduce reliance on the government.

“Lastly, but by no means least, it means we can create a better atmosphere. People go to the pub or dine out because of the buzz and trying to create that at two metres was going to be incredibly hard. With one metre it makes things so much easier and will help bring a smile to peoples faces, which is exactly what we’re all about in hospitality.

“We have to look at operating somewhere between 70% and 80% of our previous business levels just to cover the bills and break even. We’d be happy with that as a start and have written off making any profit this year; it’s all about damage limitation now and seeing ourselves through to 2021.

“Possibly the single-most important task in front of us is ensuring that our customers are safe and feel safe with us.

“Managing people in the supermarket, the bank, or the shops since they’ve opened is one thing, but people are very much on their guard just now.

“People come to hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars to relax and it is when they’re relaxing that they may become a little forgetful of the rules.

“We’ll be training our staff to ensure customers are ‘politely’ reminded to respect the rules in place and we won’t hesitate to ask people to leave, for the safety of others, should anyone not want to respect this.”

Simon Colgan, Blues Bar, Montpellier Hill

“We are excited about July 4th and feel that it will be the next big step towards life returning to normal.

“The relaxing of the two metre rule will mean that we will stand a chance to cover our costs, bearing in mind how wary people are about too many people too close together, the pressure is on us to control our situation.

“During the lockdown we have been working hard to reduce our overheads so that we do not have to turnover what we did before to survive but I think the use of outside areas will be a big part in making sure we survive... if this pandemic had happened in the winter then I think things would have been a lot worse.

“Watching people in the street and in shops I think people have now got their social distance scanner on full power but it will still be down to us to remind them if they get too happy. We are looking at lots of different way to make things as safe as possible, table service, contactless payments and applying all the lessons we have learned so far.”

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.