Hanley restaurant owner on getting ready to reopen

The owner of a Hanley cafe says it has been a difficult three months, as they finally prepare to reopen.

Josef and Annemarie Bailey decided to close The Quarter on 18 March, ahead of lockdown.

They then had to furlough 40 members of staff.

Josef says in those early days when it was unclear what the future would hold for the business, they were grateful for the financial help available.

He said: "We just had to really access as much support as we could find through the Government and the local councils, which thankfully has been the lifeline to keep us going through all of this.

"After the initial grant, we have had to then apply for the bounce back loan in order to maintain cash flow for the business."

Like many other cafes and restaurants, the business then turned to a delivery and collection service in May, which has proved to be a success.

But following the announcement by Boris Johnson on 23 June that they would be able to reopen on 4 July, preparations have been taking place to welcome back customers.

Josef said: "We prepared the restaurant for socially distanced dining a number of weeks ago, because we knew that was going to come based on other countries around the world that were either ahead of us, or hadn't been hit as hard by the virus.

"So we were in a good position once that announcement was made, and we just have the finishing touches of deep cleaning and extra equipment to go in. 

"We have got intensive staff training this week before we open because that is very different.

"It is not just physically getting the restaurant ready we also have to manage the emotions of our team, and the concerns of the public."

Like many business owners, Josef and Annemarie were concerned that people would not be ready to return to restaurants yet. 

But they had a pleasant surprise when they reopened their booking system online.

Josef said: "It crashed within about 15 minutes - like when Take That or Robbie Williams tickets go on sale - so we quickly got the tech people to fix it.

"We had around 150 bookings over a 48 hour period, which is brilliant.

"That is not just for this weekend, that is for people looking ahead as well, who might not be comfortable coming out that soon."

The reopening of eateries in city and town centres could also provide a welcome boost for the retail sector, encouraging more visitors. 

There's concern about the future of the Potteries Shopping Centre, after administrators were appointed for intu last week.

Josef says getting more people into the city centre will have a positive impact on many areas.

He said: "Its how we can support the city centre - if we do well it gives more positivity for someone to take it over in a thriving city. 

"We all have to play our part in keeping the intu Potteries Shopping Centre open."

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