‘November was looking really good’ - restaurant reacts to national lockdown as bookings soar

FLASHBACK: Tyrone and Kim Harold (front left) with Mike and Sally Gilbert (front right) and members

FLASHBACK: Tyrone and Kim Harold (front left) with Mike and Sally Gilbert (front right) and members of staff at Branfords at the Old Hall Hotel in Caister. Picture: James Bass (pre-pandemic) - Credit: James Bass

A busy restaurant that prides itself on having adapted to every shifting Government guideline during the coronavirus pandemic says it is “gutted” to be closing.

Tyrone Harold of Branfords in Caister, at the Old Hall, said: “If someone had come to me before and said we had to be closed for a month I would have picked January, February or November.

“But now I am gutted.

“We were on a roll and getting busier and busier.”

The restaurant had invested in a marquee and outdoor heaters that were making it a popular choice for diners who supported its efforts to make the best of whatever was thrown at it, he said.

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“The thing for us is that we have always adapted what we have been doing and moved to what has been available to us under the restrictions and as a result of that people have really appreciated that we have made the effort.

“We have been really busy in October and the forecast for November and December was really good.”

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Mr Harold said the restaurant was still digesting the details and undecided which route it would take.

Although, it was geared up for takeaway with an outside catering branch Whelan Bespoke Catering it would need to make enough to pay staff.

It was likely Branfords would bring back the community meals service that proved popular during the first lockdown, and there had been a flurry of inquiries already, he added.

Given the popularity of their Sunday roasts which ran to four full sittings over the last three months they were looking at possibly providing something along those lines too.

“I was expecting something like this,” he said. “But I was thought they would utilise the half term and choose a week either side of that.

“There was always going to be a second wave.

“I am more concerned with the Gove situation and his comments that it could go on longer and about being prepared for ‘a very different Christmas’.

“That’s the kind of thing that is really worrying me more.”

On the plus side he said the phone had been “red hot” over the weekend with Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday likely to see a rush to go out before the national lockdown on Thursday.

He said overall he supported the measures, if they were going to help in the long run.

“It’s crazy times for everybody,” he added.

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