Tees Talk: Hospitality businesses vow to come back stronger

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

With non-essential services primed to open under ‘new normal’ rules, we asked owners of Tees hospitality businesses how the Covid crisis has affected them and about their future plans. Here’s what they said…

James Pennington, director, Black Olive, Hartlepool

“We had to refund our Mother’s Day bookings, as the lockdown came just before, and we also had to cancel the rest of the year’s entertainment bookings. This caused issues with suppliers, and although we have agreed to keep everyone in place for when we reopen, this doesn’t look like it will be soon, at least for bands and private parties.

“With restrictions lifting on the marina, we hope to be able to serve customers using plastic cups via the safety of Perspex screens, but while people may be able to drink outside, this is subject to government guidelines so I’m not sure how it will work as yet.

“In preparation for getting back to work we’re implementing daily temperature checks, increased sanitization points, increased hand washing and we will be separating the bar into socially distant work spaces with reduced staff on shifts to be able to stay safe in the workplace.”

Dr Rashpal Singh, director and cosmetic doctor, DRS Cosmetic and Skincare Clinic, Middlesbrough

“There may be a view that our industry only focuses on a patient’s appearance, but evidence supports that it impacts on mental wellbeing too, so it was hard to close our doors.

“We believe we will come back stronger, albeit with challenges along the way. We have collaborated with international colleagues and conducted vital research that will help to improve safety within our industry and early indications show that patients are eager to return.

“We are lucky that our clinic will accommodate social distancing. As well as impeccable time planning and by appointment only entry to the building, we rarely have crossover of patients. We’ve also made physical adjustments and implemented new policies and procedures to help reduce the risks to our patients and ourselves.”

Helen Oliver, owner, Solo Boutique, Guisborough

“I’d only been operating for seven months when lockdown happened so I was just building up a great rapport with customers.

“I’m worried how we will be affected, but I’m making the store as safe as possible and putting social distancing rules in place so hopefully things will gradually get back to normal. I will be opening fewer days and shorter hours initially and operating a one in, one out policy, or by appointment only. I’m also having the store deep cleaned and repainted before opening on June 17.

“I will continue my ‘fashion to go’ service, where customers can order items via Facebook or Instagram and collect from the store, have items hand delivered locally or posted. This has worked really well during lockdown and I will definitely be keeping it up.”

Jason Adams, managing director, Rockliffe Hall, Hurworth

“The team is our priority as they’re our biggest asset, so their wellbeing during this time has been paramount. The majority have been furloughed, with some working from home and a few still on site, but keeping in touch with them and making sure every member is okay has been very important.

“In line with government guidelines, we are currently taking bookings from July 4. As the possibility of reopening the hotel gets closer, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to put in place extra special experiences for our guests, so we can offer the five-star service you’d expect from one of the UK’s best luxury resorts, whilst keeping the team, and our guests, safe.

“We’ve developed new initiatives and procedures so everyone can adhere to social distancing rules. Our team will be wearing PPE, but of course, underneath they will all be smiling and providing the usual first class Rockliffe hospitality.”

Simon Fletcher, director, Baker Street Kitchen, Middlesbrough

“Cashflow was an issue at the start of lockdown, but my team’s mental health was also a concern. I’ve struggled with anxiety myself during all this, so I ensure I keep in touch and make sure they’re ok.

“Despite the uncertainty, I’m really excited for the future. Customers are desperate to come back, so I’ve started to put some procedures in place ready for when we re-open.

“Frustratingly, the industry is still waiting for clear guidance from the government before things can be finalised. I’m really confident that people will come out and socialise as soon as they are allowed, we just have to ensure we do it as safely as possible.”

Michael Convey, director, Convey Salons, Stokesley

“Convey closed on the Saturday before lockdown. The hardest part, along with the financial worry, has been the uncertainty. Not knowing when we will be back has been frustrating. Now we have more information we can look towards a bright future.

“The support we have received from our clients has been mind-blowing. The salon will look slightly different on our return, with social distancing and PPE in place for clients and staff, but one thing will remain the same – the experience.

“We pride ourselves on creating a visit to remember, and although we have had to put some new procedures in place, we have some great things planned to ensure clients receive the very best that team Convey has to offer.”

Sam Gallego, owner, Salseros UK/Salsa Boro, Middlesbrough

“Dancing isn’t just one of the best things you can do for your soul, it also represents a break from the stresses of life. The toughest thing has been not being able to provide the much needed entertainment people love, want and need.

“We’ve all missed dancing at Orange Pip, the Town Hall and Middlesbrough Mela, but we will meet again! From early July, The Bottled Note will once again be offering Salsa lessons from 8pm.

“We will eventually get back to normal I’m sure. With regards to new guidelines, whilst we will always adhere to official recommendations, we simply cannot allow ourselves to be worried and apprehensive forever. Life is inherently risky. Furthermore, a life without dance is a very sad life indeed!”