OPINION: Hospitality industry jumps straight into Christmas in Harrogate - Simon Cotton, MD of HRH Group

With Halloween now over for another year the retail world has wholeheartedly jumped feet first into Christmas with selection boxes, gifts, twinkling lights and the likes of Mariah Carey blasting out festive tunes around every corner in Harrogate town centre.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 4:54 pm

It’s not just the retail sector either that has started the descent to Christmas, the hospitality sector has been building up to the festive season since the summer months, planning Christmas day lunches, Boxing Day brunches and New Year’s celebrations to perfection. In my last article, you may remember me encouraging everyone to start getting organised for Christmas or risk being disappointed. Well, I hope that if you wanted a Christmas Day lunch out this year you took my advice and hop footed it to your preferred restaurant or pub to book your place? It seems this year the demand for taking the family out to lunch on the big day has been higher than ever. In every one of the six restaurants in our group across North Yorkshire, we had completely sold out for Christmas Day lunch at both sittings before the last pumpkin of October had been carved, with a waiting list quickly filling up. In fact, to quote our Events Coordinator, who is our Queen of Christmas, “we’ve never sold out as quick” in the seven years she has been doing her job. Everyone will know our two Harrogate restaurants, The Pickled Sprout and The Fat Badger, but speaking to my colleagues in hospitality across the town and beyond it’s a similar picture elsewhere. So, what has created this early demand? Well, not one to show my softer side, but the events of this year, just like the last, has firmly reminded us of the truly important things in life; the people who are in ours. And, firmly securing those memory-making moments with those loved ones is high on peoples wish list this year more than ever. Talking of creating memories and getting organised, I was speaking with a couple the other day who had the most wonderful idea for treating their family and friends this year. They were telling me they wanted to spend their money locally and not online and they also wanted to support the Hospitality Industry having seen the impact of Covid on it over the last 18 months. So their idea is to have chosen to buy each of the children and grandchildren (young adults) a gift voucher for a restaurant in Harrogate. Each person will be receiving a different choice of restaurant on Christmas morning, and all with the same value. It is such a great way to support hospitality and shop local this Christmas with the lucky recipient getting to enjoy their gift at a day and time that suits them. Now, they did let it be known that they are trying their best to match up the restaurant type with the personality of family members, but had a sneaky feeling there could be some fallouts over who gets what restaurant. Well, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little family squabble now would it!

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In other news; like many industries, it has been well documented in the news that the hospitality sector, in particular, has been under pressure with a labour shortage in the past few months. I read with interest that my hospitality colleagues in York have launched a campaign to encourage people to rethink hospitality as a chosen career path. It is an industry I joined 30 years ago and I have enjoyed every moment of it. However, as we undoubtedly head into the busiest time of year if I can ask one thing of everyone in Harrogate it is this; please be kind and respectful to hospitality staff during your celebrations and lets respect the hard work and professional jobs they do. Until next month, stay safe, support local and enjoy all the amazing hospitality Harrogate has to offer.