December 5 2020

Why Going Out should be the new Staying In

Bath’s hospitality ventures have reopened for (limited) business and, slowly but surely, we’re all wondering… how will it feel to leave our own kitchens behind for the evening and let a restaurant cook for us again?

The simple answer to that question is that it will, or course, feel completely normal. No, not “new normal” – just straightforward normal; after all these months of Covid awareness, complying with the necessary rules and regulations put in place to make us all as safe and secure as possible should be second nature by now. In relation to livelihoods, though, safety and security are two words that have dropped off the menu completely for the hospitality industry.

Times are hard for the independent businesses who have worked so hard to keep afloat during both lockdowns. While many of us have endured hard times of our own over the past 10 months, we need to acknowledge the part that we have to play – the extra-added responsibility, if you like – in supporting Bath’s business community as best as we can; if we don’t, day-to-day life in the immediate world around us is going to change even more drastically than it already has.

It has to be noted, at this point, that this call to arms isn’t intended to blithely overlook the many folk who are struggling with cashflow issues of their own. But as Christmas is severely curtailed this year and the summer holiday fund untouched, might December be a good time to consider using a little bit of rainy day money to brighten up a pretty gloomy forecast? As a bonus incentive to such a plan, Welcome Back deals abound at Bath’s loveliest independent restaurants and gastropubs, including fabulous festive set menus at exceedingly wallet-friendly prices well worth cobbling some ‘mad money’ funds together for. But pounds and pennies aside, perhaps there’s a similarly serious issue affecting your decision around the ‘to book or not to book’ question…

Eating out in the highly controlled environment of a restaurant is, on many levels, “safer” than, say, travelling to work by public transport, or living in close quarters with school-age children, or shopping/working in a big supermarket – just three examples of daily life activities that many of us have continued to do throughout the most recent lockdown. If you think beyond all the scaremongering about clashing tiers and the ridiculous news headlines about whether or not a Scotch Egg constitutes a substantial meal and allow yourself to digest a main course of rationale instead (ie, take a look, online, at your favourite independent restaurant’s Tier 2 Customer Guidelines, which they’re all obliged to publish; here’s a great example from the Bath Pub Company), it becomes clear that a supper away from your own hob is nothing to be scared of. And here’s where our responsibility comes into play again: if you visit a restaurant that doesn’t appear to be following guidelines or managing the behaviour of their customers/staff properly (hugely unlikely, given the consequences for business who don’t stick to the rules), it’s up to you to leave that restaurant and explain your reasons for doing so to the owners of that business.

The independent restaurants, cafes and bars that we all love so much provide jobs for local people, support other local suppliers, producers and businesses and offer vital community cornerstones that makes Bath so unique. They don’t have the cushion of big buck investors to fall back on when times are hard; all they have is us. In readiness for reopening their doors this December, those businesses have, at extremely late notice, already done all the hard work for you in order to offer you a warm, relaxing welcome; all you have to do in return for making a safe return is to do as you’re asked when you get there, and enjoy being back.

This feature was first published in The Bath Magazine newsletter; sign up here!

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