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How are pubs in Manchester faring since the easing of lockdown restrictions?

  • Pubs around Manchester speak to Northern Quota about their experiences over the past month
  • Pubs opened their indoor spaces at the start of this week
  • Since 12 April pubs have been able to operate in outside spaces

On Monday people in Manchester were finally allowed to sit inside a pub and enjoy a pint. 

Since 12 April, pubs had only been allowed to welcome members of the public in outdoor spaces. 

This unpreceded arrangment was met with a great deal of enthusiasm by a British public who for the previous five months were locked inside their homes.  

Crowds of people lining up to have their first pint were plastered on front pages and broadcast around the country.

However, while their enthusiasm was welcomed by business owners, it was never going to calm their nerves entirely over pressures which have mounted during lockdown.

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, 2,000 pubs have been lost forever, and two billion pints in beer sales have been missed, wiping out £8.2bn in trade.

But those businesses which were able to open again have had a much-welcome boost. 

Common

Common Bar, norther quarter
Common in the Northern Quarter

Imogen Mew, general manager at Common in the Northern Quarter, says the last two weeks have been “unbelievable”. 

“People are out every day doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday or a Sunday afternoon. It’s been unbelievable,” she said.

“We’ve been blessed with the weather. People are a lot more happy to wait for a table when it's sunny.”

However, Imogen pointed out that pent-up demand and excitement for the pubs reopening have had some adverse effects. 

“People are coming to the venues and drinking in the queues and by the time they get to their tables they’re already drunk," she said.

“People were out of control on the first few days.” 

Big Hands

Big Hands, Oxford Road
Big Hands, Oxford Road

This enthusiasm for the pub has had some other unforeseen consequences, too. 

Jaril Sallemi, who manages Big Hands, a bar located near both Manchester universities, says some popular beer stocks were unable to keep up with the huge influx of demand.

“It’s been extremely busy the last few weeks," he said. 

“The whole of Manchester is experiencing a high volume of customers, which is good, but now there’s a national shortage of certain brands of beer

“I don’t think the breweries expected such a high demand.” 

Jaril was confident that stocks would pick up in the coming weeks.

KRO BAR 

Kro Bar, Oxford Road
Kro Bar, Oxford Road

“Busy” was the response NQ was given by Martin, one of the owners of Kro Bar opposite the University of Manchester. 

He said: “We have run out some lines of beer, but we’ve been able to get in the next day so it hasn’t been much of problem. 

“Customers have been pretty well behaved, to be honest. Because it’s all restaurant service everyone’s been pretty good. 

“Occasionally we must tell people to put their mask on or sit down, but in general they’ve all been pretty well behaved.”

Like the other businesses we spoke to, caution was still the word. 

Martin said: “We've got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of debts that have built up from the last year, particularly the fixed costs that we've had to add on to our bottom lines.

“We have got a long way to go until we’ve got those paid off.”

Fletcher Moss

Fletchers Moss, Didsbury
Fletcher Moss pub in Didsbury

Like Kro Bar, Fletcher Moss in Didsbury has had a similar experience over the last few weeks. 

“It's been busy,” said manager Martin Devlin. 

“We had a few supplier issues, but other than that things have run very smoothly.

“The whole times been really busy. It hasn’t died down at all.

“Our client base is 18 to 80 so its been a real mixed bag: families, students, professionals, retirees.

“Everyone’s behaved well and been very respectful of the rules."

Despite peoples’ eagerness to head to the pub, Fletcher Moss had not experienced any of the antics that had surfaced on social media around the country. 

“It's probably been the most peaceful and quite time we've had in terms of trouble—not that there's much trouble most of the time," said Martin.

“I think because there's table service it means people are out there patrolling all the time.

“But not a single ejection since we've opened. 

Martin was quick to praise the steadfastness of the British public in their commitment to the pub. 

“We’ve had people coming out and sitting in the rain" he said.

“We’ve had people turn up with umbrella and hats so that can sit outside where its not protected by our gazebo.

“That’s the great British public for you.”

The Thirsty Scholar, situated just inside the city centre, is not likely to open until all restrictions are dropped in June. 

Bosses say the margins are too slim to allow for a partial reopening. 

While the Thristy Scholar was confident that they would open their doors come June, the same unfortuantely will not be true for all pubs. 

But all the pubs we spoke to had one thing in common: each has gone on a hiring spree since restrictions eased last month. 

This is partly owing to the labour-intensive nature of of table service and COVID-19 regulations. 

But it also sugggests that those that have survived the pandemic are not wasting any time getting back into the swing of things. 

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