Here is what it is like in Harrogate's socially distanced Bettys cafe
In spite of the lashing rain and uninviting grey skies, when Harrogate Bettys reopened the doors to its cafe today it was anything but a damp squib.
With queues of people wrapped in raincoats snaking all the way down Montpellier Hill waiting for their Bettys fix, a sense of normality was returned to the town centre. Enjoying a cup of tea and a fat rascal in that famous tea room is one of the things many people have missed during the lockdown.
And that was all too clear to see, as every time the queue moved forwards, more and more people joined at the back, eagerly awaiting their new Bettys experience.
Special stickers on the floor ensured there were two metres between each set of guests, and a separate queue was started at the other side of the door for those simply wishing to enter the shop.
Once inside and passed the first hand sanitising station, the scene was comforting and familiar, although slightly more sparse as tables have been moved to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Staff are also now using ear pieces to communicate with one another, meaning less people are rushing through the rooms trying to find a table.
No hot food is currently available at the cafe, but that didn't stop diners devouring afternoon teas, sandwiches and delicious cakes from the patisserie - all washed down with a signature Bettys brew, or a glass of champagne for those really wanting to celebrate.
Janet Parker, Branch Manager at Bettys Harrogate, said: "It feels great to be open again – we have missed our customers and it looks like they’ve missed us too! We really didn’t know what to expect in terms of turnout today but we’re delighted to say that it has been steady all day.
"There has been a lot of work undertaken to ensure we are Covid ready, reconfiguring spaces and procedures in accordance with Government guidelines, but everything is in place and we will continue to review and revise our procedures as needed. It’s a new Bettys experience for us all, staff and customers alike, and we’re all adjusting to a new way of working and socialising.
"Hopefully today people will have seen that some things haven’t changed - our staff are still as attentive as ever, the surroundings are lovely and the food is still delicious."
A new service, Shop From Your Table, allows cafe customers to skip the queue for the shop and order takeaway treats right to their table - the details of which are included in the menu. And as always, it was service with a smile - the staff may still be readjusting to this unique way of working, but they certainly haven't let it affect their spirits.
The Bettys cafe at Harlow Carr is set to reopen on Monday, August 3.
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