Shoreham’s pubs, restaurants and cafes react to July 4 reopening news

News that pubs, restaurants and other businesses will be allowed to reopen from July 4 has been welcomed by business owners in Shoreham.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 2:07 pm
Bob McCulloch at the Tom Foolery

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that the hospitality sector could welcome back customers, as long as safety guidelines are followed.

Vanessa McCulloch, who runs the Tom Foolery cafe in Shoreham alongside Bob McCulloch, welcomed the announcement.

“We are really looking forward to places reopening,” she said. “Shoreham has some lovely restaurants and pubs.

“No one place can survive on its own. We kind of need the whole town, and the sooner the better.”

While July 4 will bring big changes to many businesses in Shoreham, she said the Tom Foolery plans to continue operating in the same way it has done since it reopened two weeks ago.

The counter at the cafe has been completely rebuilt, and Vanessa said: “We’ve turned ourselves into a festival takeaway, with lots of music and decoration.

“Everyone was feeling so sombre and gloomy about the whole shopping and eating out experience.

“We wanted to get a bit of fun onto the high street.”

The menu has been changed to be more take-away friendly, with food people can hold while they walk around or have a picnic.

Gone are the poached eggs, and instead customers can choose from hot dogs, loaded fries, pulled pork or puled jackfruit for vegans.

People can also order via a click and collect service.

“I think it’s working,” Vanessa said. “On the days we are open, we are probably trading at about 80 per cent of what we were, which isn’t bad.”

While she said they would be talking to the council about potentially putting some tables outside the cafe, she said they would not be bringing people to eat indoors at the moment.

“We just feel it needs a little bit more time, and the experience needs to be really positive,” she said.

A big part of hospitality is the atmosphere, and she said: “As soon as you start cutting down numbers it makes it very difficult.

“We’ve always traded with a busy, noisy atmosphere.”

She said they would be following this new model until the end of September.

“We get good summers in Shoreham and we expect more people with less people travelling abroad,” she said.

“We can safely and confidently deliver a service while also looking after our staff.”

Vanessa said the community had been ‘fantastic’, adding: “We are feeling fairly confident that we should be able to survive and get through the summer on this particular model.”

Enver Godanci, who owns Tosca Ristorante in Shoreham High Street, said he was not yet sure whether he would reopen on July 4.

“I think I might end up waiting a bit longer,” he said.

While the Government announcement was overall ‘good news’, he said it was ‘a scary time’.

“It’s the uncertainty of not knowing what to expect,” he said. “July will be a month of experimentation.”

Around 40 per cent of the restaurant’s clientele are over the age of 70, and he said: “We have to be very cautious.

“There’s a lot of stuff to take into account – the safety of the staff, the safety of the customers.”

He also fears that the closure of parking bays on the high street, which have been cordoned off to make the pavement wider, might stop visitors from travelling to the restaurant.

While it will be positive to see more life in the town, he said: “It’s going to be very strange.

“But we have to get used to it. It’s the new normal, basically.”

The owners of the Tap House in Shoreham’s East Street have their fingers crossed that the pub will reopen on July 4 – but said it might be a few days later.

Owner Darren Gearing is currently making his way through the Government’s chunky document outlining the safety guidelines businesses will have to follow.

However because the measures are only guidelines, and different pubs and restaurants might interpret them differently, he said he feared customers would be ‘completely confused’.

The Tap House launched a takeaway service around two weeks ago.

“We wanted to open, we wanted to get our people back to work, get the lights back on and the music playing,” he said. “That’s been very good for us.”

But while it was going ‘ok’ so far, he said: “You’re never going to replace the atmosphere of a bar.”

Mr Gearing is part of the trio which also owns the Beach House in Worthing and the Corner House in Worthing, which will definitely be opening on July 4.

A one way system, protective screens and other safety measures will all be introduced.

They will also be increasing staff so that they can record the details of people who come in, as per the Government guidelines.

He said this was likely to ‘throw up all sorts of challenges’, as some people might not want to leave their contact details.

“We know for certain it’s not going to be easy, especially at 8pm on a Friday night when someone has had two glasses of wine,” he said.

Since shops reopened last week, he said there had been more of a buzz in the town centres, adding: “You can see confidence is slowly building.”

Overall, he said: “We are very upbeat, but it’s just going to take some time.”

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.