Unlocking Huntingdonshire: We talk to pubs planning to reopen on Saturday

Oliver Cromwell Pub Landlord Joseph Overden and Jemma Yeowart. PICTURE: Joseph Ovenden

Oliver Cromwell Pub Landlord Joseph Overden and Jemma Yeowart. PICTURE: Joseph Ovenden - Credit: Joseph Ovenden

Pubs across the five market towns of Huntingdonshire are making preparations to reopen on Saturday.

Seven Wives Pub in St Ives

Seven Wives Pub in St Ives PICTURE: Brandon Bent - Credit: Brandon Bent

The Seven Wives, in St Ives, will be using the pub’s large outside area, which can seat up to 200 people, during the opening weekend.

Landlord Brandon Bent has put a booking system in place. There will be portable toilets available outside, but no food will be served for the time being.

MORE: Unlocking Huntingdonshire: Who can reopen on July 4?

Mr Bent, said: “It has been a big financial hit to us, being shut for the last three months. We chose not to set up any fundraising pages and had to furlough four staff members.

The Windmill in Somersham

The Windmill in Somersham PICTURE: Justine Mackenzie - Credit: Justine Mackenzie

“We did receive a Government loan to help us, but it has still left us with debt. We are really happy to be opening on Saturday and look forward to seeing our customers again.

“We require people to book the tables in advance and they can do this by calling us.”

Mr Bent said that during lockdown the rear garden of the pub had been updated and he had been serving take-away food.

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The landlord of The Oliver Cromwell pub, also in St Ives, said he was “over the moon” to be reopening on Saturday.

Joseph Ovenden said: “We will be using social distancing signs of one metre apart and we will be opening the inside of the pub as well as outside.

“We will, however, have a perspex screen which will be at the front of the bar to stop people sitting there. All tables and chairs will be set out one metre apart in the garden and inside.

“Four hand sanitizers will be dotted at entrance points and it will be table service only.

“We will only be serving drinks for the first month we are open, and will be wearing PPE gloves and masks when serving customers.”

Mr Ovenden said on Monday that he was taking bookings for customers and is almost fully booked.

“We are looking forward to seeing all our customers again and we are asking people to book tables in advance before coming to the pub.”

He also said he had found the lockdown financially “very difficult” and a Government loan had “saved his pub”.

He had to furlough 10 staff and hopes he can slowly start to return to normal.

Justine Mackenzie of The Windmill, in Somersham, shared her plans to reopen.

“The maximum capacity in The Windmill will be 50 people and the tables will be spaced by 1.5 metres apart,” she said.

“We would normally hold a capacity of 90 people, so we will be taking away some tables.

“All menus will be disposable and we will put out fresh ones for each set of customers as they arrive.

“It will be strictly table service and we will have a one-way in and out system, in place to keep customers safe.

“Our PPE equipment is being provided by Greene King as part of a reopening package.

“Staff will be temperature checked every morning, before their shift and we will have masks to wear when serving food.

“There will be markers on the floor to remind people to socially distance and there will be hand sanitizer stations in the toilets and the pub.

“We have a large number of bookings already for Saturday and we would advise people to call and book before coming, although if we do have walk-ins and we are not at full capacity we will be able to accommodate them.

“During the lockdown, it has given us all time to reflect on what’s going on, but we now need to at least try to open again and see how it goes.

“We have deep cleaned the kitchen and we are forever cleaning surfaces down, we want the pub to remain as safe space as much as possible.”