Sleaford area customers enjoy first week of unlocking of beer gardens and outdoor dining

With pubs, restaurants and cafes now allowed to reopen from April 12 to serve customers outdoors, the hospitality sector around Sleaford has gone into overdrive.

Pub gardens have been a hive of activity as owners geared to recoup their losses from months of closure, bringing in new seating, canopies, patios, planters and heating to ensure a comfortable experience for diners and drinkers until business can open up indoors.

They are all excited to see customers return. Tables are limited to parties of six, with the first few evenings booking up fast.

Mick Wells, boss of the Barge and Bottle in Sleaford said they have opened for food in an enhanced outdoor seating area off Carre Street, with food bookings taking priority in the first week, while drinkers are on a first come first served basis.

He said: “We will have a floor host and full table service to ensure a positive customer experience.”

People will need to register with Track and Trace and be shown to their table. Orders are linked electronically direct to the kitchen and you can even text to get your glass topped up.

Mick said they now have 24 covered tables, carefully distanced, with heaters for chillier nights. He wanted to give the opportunity for people to forget the troubles of the past year and look forward to happier times.

Hollie Blankley of Watergate Yard, in Sleaford, added she and husband Ryan could not wait to see people back in the yard. “We are, of course, still covid secure and have had a reshuffle of the tables to create a little more distance. We are now also operating with mobile order and pay so you can get your drinks faster.”

Kyla and Mark Roberts raise a glass at the Solo Bar and Restaurant in Sleaford Market Place. EMN-211204-163439001

They have opened up another outside bar with more food options.

Hollie said: “We have extra roles with a host and someone organising all the tickets from the orders.

“There is a feeling of relief after a lot of hard work. It has been a long year.”

But she said they were feeling positive: “The bookings are great – we are looking at just short of 1,000 covers over this next week. There is still space for walk-ins and bookings for midweek and Sundays. This week has been fantastic and I can see going forward there are already bookings to follow.

Cheers - Mick Lightfoot and Mandy Cotterill said it was great to get back to the Barge and Bottle in Sleaford. EMN-211204-163357001

“As soon as the tent comes down and the sun comes out we should have a lovely summer.”

Marcus Hrubesch at the Solo Bar and Restaurant saw plenty of visitors on his first morning of opening on Monday.

He said he was pleased to be back and it was long overdue. “We started a takeaway service which went quite well so we are going to keep that on,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of goodwill messages from my locals that can’t wait to get back.”

“We are pretty full Saturday and Sunday.”

The Bridgewater family at the Barge and Bottle, Sleaford. "What a relief to be able to walk into a pub," said Paul Bridgewater. EMN-211204-163408001

Marcus said they have all the covid-safety precautions in place plus a few extra. “I’ve had my jab now, we are getting through this and let’s move on bigger and stronger.”

He joked if people had to lock down again there would be a revolution.

The team at Millers bar and restaurant said they are excited to welcome customers back too, saying: “Thank you to everyone who has continued to support the business through these difficult times.”

Rebecca Kelly and Tom Haigh were looking forward to their meal at Millers Restaurant and Bar. EMN-211204-163418001
Bill and Dorrie Tebb were just pleased to sit down and have a coffee somewhere in Sleaford again, pictured at Millers Bar and Restaurant. EMN-211204-163428001
Kyla and Mark Roberts raise a glass at the Solo Bar and Restaurant in Sleaford Market Place. EMN-211204-163439001
First customers through the door at Watergate Yard in Sleaford, Dave Brackley and Al Smalley were having a business meeting. EMN-211204-163450001