Delight and new staff as Doncaster restaurants and cafés set to return after seven months away

It’s been over seven months since Bev Georgiou served a meal at her café on Printing Office Street, in the heart of Doncaster.

Thursday, 13th May 2021, 6:00 am

She, like so many others, was told to close back at the end of October, when tough new measures were put in place to deal with the surging number of coronavirus cases in Doncaster. She did not have the space to viable open up and serve outdoors in March.

But on Monday, her staff will be back, and customers will be eating again at The Glass Strawberry as it reopens again in the latest stage of the easing of lockdown.

Now she is keen to make up for lost time.

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Bev Georgiou, owner and Antonia Georgiou, manager, pictured with staff members outside The Glass Strawberry Coffee House. Picture: NDFP-11-05-21-GlassStrawberry 1-NMSY

She and other businesses have been hit in the pocket over the last six months. They say the support from Government was not as generous as it was during the first three months of lockdown, and many built up debt.

Bev is already planning changes to her previous business model. When she re-opens, she will be open three evenings a week. It is the first time she has done evenings, but she believes she will need to.

"People will be able to eat in on Monday, and we’re looking forward to it,” she said. “We will be able to let people sit outside now too, because if it rains, they can come indoors.

"We’re going to be open until 8pm, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I think we have to, to get the money in. We think we can capture people straight from work, or even pre-cinema, and when it opens, pre-Cast.

Paul Moullali, owner, (centre) pictured with staff members at Relish Bar and Grill as they prepare for re-opening. Picture: NDFP-11-05-21-Relish 1-NMSY

"It’s been nearly seven months since we were open, and it’s been tough. The grants we’ve had have not equated to the three months of the first lockdown, and we have still had costs.”

She is looking forward to re-opening, and like many has been recruiting, taking five new staff on to cover the later opening.

"It’s going to be so wonderful to get the interaction with people again – we’ve all learned how much we need it,” she said.

A few hundred yards away, Paul Moullali is getting ready to re-open after the same long wait.

Paul suffered a setback last week, when a car crashed into the front of his venue, Relish Bar and Grill, on East Laith Gate.

But that will not stop him re-opening – and his repairs are expected to be completed for Monday.

He, like many other venues, have carried out major refurbishments while they have been closed, to try to find a way to use the time constructively.

The new windows to replace those broken by the car are to be installed on Friday.

"I’m pleased, because we’re going to look like a brand new restaurant,” he said.

"We’ve just done our beer order. I noticed that previous to that, the one before had been October 26 last year. It’s been tough, but all our staff are coming back, and we’ve not made any redundancies. We will have good people who know what they’re doing.

"We’re expecting it to be busy, and I think people are wanting to go out. I’m desperately looking forward to it. The monotony of not running my business has been crazy, but we’ve still out the outgoings. But the furlough scheme has still been a massive help. The loans have just piled up the debt though.

“The good thing is that we have bookings already for Monday, and I think we’re going to see high demand.”

For Raheel Mahmood, who runs the Poppadoms and Cream restaurant, on Hall Gate, re-opening indoors will be the latest step, having already opened al fresco seats outside the front of the building.

They served meals, while the kitchen was open cooking takeaways.

But he says the re-opening indoors is important. His venue has also refurbished inside, with the toilets revamped, and the interior re-decorated.

"We’ve had some tables outside. But it is hard when it’s windy or it rains, and you have to close them up.

"We should be able to use half the tables when we re-open indoors on Monday.

"I think there may be some people who are still worried about coming out. But we are already taking bookings. We will be happy if we get 30 to 40 people, combined with the takeaways deliveries. We want people to take it easy, and to come out enjoying themselves, and if it’s busy, to be patient.”

Away from the town centre, Jade Moore is looking forward to re-opening a venue which she had only managed to run for a week before the previous restrictions forced her to close it.

Jade, who has run The Chase tea rooms in Bawtry for several years, expanded with a new venue, Moore-ish Delights, in Harworth, in October. She had to close a week after opening.

Now she is ready to try again, and hoping to keep it open longer this time. In the meantime, she has started making cakes for other businesses as well as her own to tide her over during the last few months

"We’ve taken on three new staff between the shops, and we’ll share them between the shops," she said.

"It’s a bit scary to be re-opening again after so long, but we’re looking forward to it. We’ve already got 25 afternoon teas booked in for Monday. Everyone’s really excited, and I know a lot of the regulars personally. It’s going to be nice to catch up again."

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.