Lancashire-based chef Mark Birchall plans to re-open Moor Hall - which topped our list of the best places to eat in the UK last year - and his more casual The Barn next month, following their closure in March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The two Michelin-starred Moor Hall and its seven boutique bedrooms will be open from 22 July while Birchall’s more casual dining concept, The Barn, will reopen earlier, on 7 July, with outdoor seating also available.
Seating tables up to four, or six in the private dining room, Birchall’s flagship will reopen Wednesday to Sunday in its previous tasting menu-only format.
Safety measures in Birchall's restaurants will include customer temperature checks on arrival; compulsory use of PPE equipment by staff; glass screens in between tables at The Barn; and cutlery being laid out from the outset of each meal at Moor Hall to reduce face-to-face interaction.
“I cannot wait to reopen the doors to Moor Hall. The last few months have been incredibly challenging, as they have been for the rest of our industry,” says Birchall.
Last night (18 June) Michel Roux Jr took to Twitter to announce that Le Gavroche would be taking bookings from 7 July, but referenced the prevailing uncertainty by signing off his tweet “with a bit of luck we might be open”.
Clare Smyth also plans to open on 4 July if permitted by the Government. She says that re-opening her two Michelin star dining room will be both “a learning process” and “tough”.
“We don’t know everything yet as we don’t have guidelines,” she says. “But we have been watching what has been happening in other countries and we’re making our own plans."
"I can’t wait to get Core open and get the team back together. Core is a spacious restaurant, I’m pretty confident we can manage every step of the guest journey while following regulations."
Under a 2m rule Core - which placed number 4 on our list of the top 100 restaurants in the UK last year - would go from 52 cover to 36.
“I’m not sure how it’s all gong to balance out financially but I think it’s really important that we get back up and running,” Smyth continues. “The economy is in dire straits because of the hospitality industry being closed.”
Plans to announce that pubs and restaurants in England could reopen on 4 July have reportedly been delayed by the Government’s review of the two-metre social distancing rule.
According to City AM, the announcement to ease the lockdown further has been hampered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘last-minute’ review into whether it is possible to reduce its two-metre social distancing rule.
It is understood that Covid-19 operating guidelines for England’s hospitality sector have been drawn up by the government and are ready to distribute.
The lack of clarity from the Government over when businesses in the hospitality can reopen has led to significant uncertainty among operators over whether they should be planning to reopen on 4 July; the date currently being mooted by Government as the day that hospitality businesses can reopen.