'We can't wait': Chesterfield cafes and restaurants prepare to welcome back customers outside ahead of lockdown easing plans
Cafes and restaurants across Chesterfield are putting the finishing touches to preparations and say they ‘can’t wait’ to welcome back customers on Monday. (April 12)
Cafe Qoozies located on Vicar Lane has ordered gazebos to cover their outdoor tables and enable customers to sit outside.
The eatery which specialises in spinach burgers, sandwiches, smoothies and juices has also developed a new app which allows customers to order and pay for their meal at their table, which will then be brought out by a server.
As part of the lockdown easing rules customers are required to order and consume their meal at a table.
Visitors must follow the rule of six, or be in a group of just two households but no longer need to to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks - and there'll be no 10pm curfew.
Mario Lanza and Elisa Murcott who run Qoozies, have kept the healthy cafe open as a takeaway during lockdown but hope the relaxing of rules will encourage more customers to return.
"Business hasn't been anywhere near as busy as normal, trade is probably down around 80 to 90 per cent”, Mario said.
"We've had some really slow weeks, Saturdays are usually ok when people are walking around a little bit more.
"But slowly, gradually, with every few weeks you'd seen an extra few people walking around town and feeling more comfortable.”
The local business, which is accepting advance bookings as well as walk-ins, has furloughed five members of staff who they hope to bring back when groups of six are allowed to dine inside from May 17.
Mario said: "It is quite large inside and depending on social distancing, last time when we opened up in August we actually did quite well - we had one or two really good months.
"But with only being able to serve takeaways it has been absolutely terrible.
"But one of the best things the Government has done has been to set the road map out and do it gradually as it helps us plan.
"I would encourage customers to come down – we're still here, we want to see all our old and new customers and our doors are open, as they always have been.”
Nonnas, on Chatsworth Road, is one of many businesses not reopening for customers to sit outside on April 12, but instead will be unveiling a new outside seating area, menu, wine list and cocktails on May 17 when groups of six or two households will be allowed to dine indoors too.
The restaurant has been providing takeaways through delivery app Citygrab.
Manager Clare Kayani added: "It's been different, it's not as busy or successful as if we were open normally.”
While the Italian restaurant is unable to open its doors in time for April 12 as it does not have an outdoor seating area, work is underway to provide tables under parasols along with a refreshed food and drink menu in time for mid-May.
"We're freshening the place up a bit and we just want to get the place right to open on the May 17, sort of a bit of a restart”, Clare said.
"We're very excited, we can't wait to get everything going again.”
Customers can make reservations online in advance for Nonnas reopening next month.
The Vintage Tea Rooms in Chesterfield are one of many independent cafes unable to welcome customers to sit outside next week as they don’t have any outdoor seating, but are planning on putting a few benches outside the cafe to give people an area to sit.
While the quirky cafe which specialises in afternoon tea, cakes and freshly baked scones only reopened as a takeaway for the first time a couple of weeks ago, owner Sharon Hilton is confident business will pick up in May when residents can sit inside.
The business recently moved from Beetwell Street to Vicar Lane to catch more footfall.
"People are excited and interested", Sharon said.
"But I do it on my own, I haven't even got any staff in because it's been awful - it takes a week to make what I used to make in a day.”
She had to make two members of her team redundant due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and furloughed all nine of her remaining workforce while the business is unable to fully reopen.
The tea room owner also shared that her debts have increased during the past year, as she took out one of the Government’s Bounce Back Loans to help the business restart post pandemic.
Sharon added: "It's not an ideal situation, hopefully when we get back up and running I'll be able to reemploy the two that I let go.
"That's something that we might be able to look forward to because I do predict that we are going to be really, really busy in May.
"It's just a shame that it is another five weeks after the shops open.”
She explained that reopening as a takeaway has had a limited financial impact but hopes it helps to spread the word about The Vintage Tea Room’s new home on Vicar Lane when customers can sit inside next month.
"Even if I did have outside space I don't think I would reopen because it is all weather permitting", the business owner commented.
Sharon added that despite the financial difficulties of lockdown, she is positive about the future as rules begin to be relaxed.
She said: “People are just dying to get out and meet their friends.
"I'm happy that we've survived because obviously people haven't.
"I am quite optimistic that when we reopen again, we will just go from strength to strength, especially with the move up to this area.”
The business plans to expand their seating area inside in time for May 17.