Speaking on BigHospitality’s latest #UnitedWeStand podcast, Madi thinks that realistically being able to have trade inside her Lancashire gastropub will not be an option until “way past the autumn”, but plans are already being put into place to utilise the Parkers Arms’ vast outside space.
“We are thinking quite optimistically about maybe being able to make use of the British weather if pubs are allowed to reopen before the summer is out,” she says. “We have worked out the logistics of how to keep customers and our team safe, and we would be good to go with that as and when we get the green light from the Government to reopen.”
Madi says that part of the plan to ensure safety for her team would include offering a limited menu, which, should the pub reopen during the summer, focus on easy-casual dishes such as burgers and pies; asking guests to pre-book tables; and not allowing any walk-ins.
“For us the variable here is making sure our guests know they have to play their part in keeping people safe. We’re very confident with what we can do, but its about making sure that there are clear markers out there for guests to know how they should be behave too.”
Despite not expecting indoor trade to be available until much later in the year, Madi does say that the Parkers’ dining room has already been measured for a seating plan that observes social distancing. In that plan, the number of seats would be reduced by 50%.
“In order to implement all the safety measures, we’re going to need the same amount of staff, and service times will have to be more staggered. Adding flexibility to the furlough scheme helps, but it’s going to be hard, and we’re going to have to be creative.”
As well as using the closure to work on the Parkers Arms’ outside space for a potential summer reopening, Madi has also spent time developing an online shop and takeaway service to sell a range of the pub’s iconic pies, which she hopes to launch in the near future. And despite the challenges ahead, she remains optimistic about her business being able to weather the storm.
“It’s been very hard trying to reintegrate our business for the future. But we think we stand a good chance of surviving this. And we think that other rural pubs do too.”
#UnitedWeStand has been created by William Reed hospitality titles BigHospitality, Restaurant magazine and Morning Advertiser and is supported by Britvic, CocaCola European Partners and Unilever Food Solutions.
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