Drinkers across England are bracing for the big British pub’s return next Monday – with some places so desperate to serve locals that they open a minute past midnight.
Kentish Belle, a micropub in Bexley, south-east London, has taken reservations for tables between 0.01 and 3 a.m. next Monday after being licensed to operate on an ad hoc basis in the wee hours of the morning .
Other pubs have also been busy setting up tents and marquees for April 12, while the Marston’s chain today reaffirmed plans to open around 700 beer gardens and other outdoor spaces next week, so that the restrictions will ease.
Starting next week, amended government rules will allow pubs and restaurants to reopen to serve patrons of beer gardens or other outdoor service areas – after months of complete shutdown of the industry.
Marston’s said it opens around 70% of its 1,000 managed and franchised pubs in England ‘On or around’ April 12 – and Scottish and Welsh pubs will open on April 26, subject to final confirmation from authorities.
A week ago, the company revealed that it had carried out work on around 300 pubs to ensure their outdoor service areas can safely accommodate customers.
Company director of operations Ed Hancock said: ‘There is no one size fits all, we have to think about how the space will be used and most importantly what customers are looking for.
“ Through 2021 and beyond, outdoor spaces will become even more valuable and the industry must continue to provide a safe and comfortable environment for customers. ”
Marston’s has said the rest of its managed estate in England is expected to open with restricted domestic transactions around May 17, as long as the government sticks to its plans.
It comes just days after it was reported that the majority of pubs may not reopen on April 12 because they don’t have enough outdoor space to make it financially viable.
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has said that while 75% of UK pubs have a beer garden or outdoor space, only 40% of establishments have a large enough one.
As a result, he estimates that only 17% of pubs will welcome customers again and that limited capacity and unpredictable weather conditions could leave many businesses struggling to break even.
“This would translate into a loss of turnover for the sector of £ 1.5bn compared to trading in normal times. It’s a long way from reopening and recovering, ” said Emma McClarkin, executive director of BBPA.
“ Even if some pubs tried to open outdoors only in April, a few heavy rains would suffice and they would find it was all for nothing.
“For many pubs the gardens are at the back and the only way to get there is from inside. And of course, a toilet would still have to be provided.
“We question the government’s thinking behind this and suggest they consult with us as a sector on this.”
Britain’s BEST outdoor gardens! Best pubs for an alfresco pint revealed – as owners set up marquees and tents to keep al fresco drinkers warm when the booze starts flowing again on Monday
The ten best British beer gardens
Britain’s best outdoor gardens were revealed today as thirsty drinkers lick their lips ahead of their first pint next Monday.
The Square and Compass in Swanage, Dorset was named the best in England, and near Weymouth, the Smugglers Inn was ranked seventh.
Sadly, the UK watering hole to review is the Ben Nevis Inn in Fort William, which will not reopen yet under Scottish rules.
The Drunken Duck Inn in Ambleside and The Albert in Windemere are also on the Lake District drinker list.
The best beer gardens were compiled by holidaycottage.co.uk and discovered by seeing which names were searched in key locations.
Shannon Keary, head of digital public relations for the company, said: “ It seems like as a nation we are all busy counting until April 12 or 26 when we can finally see our friends and our family and have a drink in an outdoor cafe.
“ Looking ahead to that date we wanted to see where the top ten outdoor gardens are located, we hope to help people decide where to go once the doors open, and also where to visit a staycation this year.
“ It’s also really great to see that independent bars, pubs and restaurants are all on this list. We know the hospitality industry has suffered over the past year and it is encouraging to see so many UK independents rated highly on this list. We hope to encourage many people to visit and support them in April and beyond.