Tees Talk: diners’ feedback on local restaurant visits

We asked local businesspeople about their experiences of visiting Tees restaurants and how they felt the eateries performed in making diners feel safe.

Anthony Suddes, marketing and communications manager, AV Dawson

We’ve eaten out on a few occasions since lockdown and had a very mixed experience. There are restaurants such as Baker Street Kitchen that have excellent precautions, including an app to order and screens between tables. Also, the Devonport at Middleton-One-Row has good social distancing and safety measures.

However, we recently had a terrible experience at a restaurant in Middlesbrough that lacked organisation and preferred to have bums on seats, rather than take reasonable steps to protect its customers. It has really made me cautious and question where we choose to eat in the future.

Kirsten Donkin, head of PR, marketing and communications, PD Ports

I recently visited Chadwicks in Maltby over lunchtime. I felt very comfortable and had a really positive experience. Measures had been put in place to safeguard my family and others enjoying their meals at the venue.

We used hand sanitiser provided as we entered and waited to be seated. We were then talked through the process of ordering food and drinks, as well as use of the facilities, by a member of staff once we were seated.

This included receiving our drinks and food on a separate table and putting them back once we finished our meal to avoid close contact between staff and customers. A one-way system was also in place for using the toilet facilities and for leaving the venue. We felt very relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

Michael McGeary, owner, The Memoir Man

I’ve been in loads, eating out to help out as much as I can! I’ve been impressed with how hard they are all trying and with some of the imaginative adaptations in place.

Sometimes they don’t seem to make much sense, though, like a screen in an Indian restaurant that meant the waiter had to lean right across me to pass plates along the table!

Also, as with everything related to Covid, it’s so easy to forget the instructions once you relax and start enjoying yourself, especially with a little liquid refreshment taken.

Chris Petty, managing director, Cornerstone Business Solutions

I’ve been to restaurants a couple of times, both here in Teesside and over in the Lakes, which I go to every weekend. The first time I was really anxious and concerned but the prospect of getting a pint on draught was waiting, so it was a no-brainer.

I think everywhere I’ve been they have got it spot on, I felt really safe and the instructions were given to what I could and couldn’t do – hand sanitiser on the way in, took to my table, and fill in a track and trace form.

In all honesty, the service was better than usual, as you can’t walk anywhere, so they come to you. I feel really safe now about going out.

Charlotte Linton, account manager, Better

The first restaurant I visited post-lockdown was Cafe Lilli in Norton. I was a bit apprehensive about going out and not knowing what the new ‘normal’ experience of going for a meal would be like.

They had taken all necessary precautions – hand wash at the door, menus on boards instead of printed and passed around, clear and well spaced out tables. It felt very safe but still maintained a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

Chris Garbutt, sales manager, Tees Business

Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, me and my family have visited two central Middlesbrough restaurants. The first was a Friday evening and, although the restaurant was very busy, it was clear the owners had spent time ensuring their customers could visit in a safe manner.

A one-way system was in place, sanitising your hands on arrival was mandatory, workers wore face masks and gloves and there were plenty of staff on hand to ensure speedy table service.

The second was on a Wednesday evening, meaning diners could enjoy the Eat Out to Help Out offer. As you can imagine, it was very busy and, although the restaurant had done everything they could to ensure social distancing measures were adhered to inside the restaurant, there was a huge queue outside of diners waiting to get in and social distancing was non-existent. It was also frustrating to have to wait so long as we’d actually booked a table.

Diane Williamson, Teesside Philanthropic Foundation

I’ve eaten at Pizza Express twice, once at York Shopping Outlet and once at Teesside Park. I can’t remember York restaurant asking for contact details, but I booked Teesside Park on-line so they have my details.

Both visits were very good – hand sanitiser provided, asked you to download the app to view the menu rather than giving you paper menus, staff weren’t wearing PPE, but they did place all drinks and food on the end table and you then passed everything along to others yourselves.