Tables fill at restaurants and pubs as bar serves 450 on reopening day

Friends get together with a cocktail tree at the Rooftop Bar as Covid restrictions are eased. From l

Friends get together with a cocktail tree at the Rooftop Bar as Covid restrictions are eased. From left, Ashley Dugdale, Charley Woodbine, Chris Cleveland, Gemma Whiddett, and Grant Harris. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Delighted restaurant owners and pubs landlords finally saw tables filled - and even had to turn some customers away - as lockdown rules eased.

Hospitality businesses are, from Monday, now allowed to serve customers outdoors, with hopes pinned on being able to fully reopen indoors from May 17.

While there had been concerns success of reopenings would hinge on the weather, the chilly conditions of 9C didn't put people off, with many wrapping up in the spring sunshine to eat al fresco.

At the Rooftop Gardens, on Rose Lane, manager Glenn Walker enjoyed a busy brunch and lunch shift, with roughly 450 people booked in over the course of the day. 

He said they'd taken on an extra 15 people to cope with the anticipated rush of spring, and said they were already fully booked for this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"Today's gone really well," he said, "There's been a good flow of bookings - people seem to really be enjoying getting back to a slight bit of normality."

Glenn Walker, manager of the Rooftop Bar, pleased to welcome people back as Covid restrictions are e

Glenn Walker, manager of the Rooftop Bar, pleased to welcome people back as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Among those enjoying lunch was Gemma Whiddett, who was catching up with colleagues who hadn't seen each other since Christmas.

She said they were marking missed birthdays and a leaving do, and had booked the table as soon as prime minister Boris Johnson made the announcement.

People enjoying the Rooftop Bar as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

People enjoying the Rooftop Bar as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

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At the Lamb Inn, in the city centre, demand outweighed capacity, with staff having to turn away customers by 1.30pm.

People out enjoying The Lamb Inn as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

People out enjoying The Lamb Inn as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

They said bookings were solid for the rest of the week.

Queues formed outside places to eat across the city, from national chains such as McDonald's to independents including Moorish Falafel, on Lower Goat Lane, and the coffee cart on London Street.

People out enjoying The Lamb Inn as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

People out enjoying The Lamb Inn as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

At the Sir Garnet, which reopened as both as a pub and a shop, staff were kept busy with food and drink orders as people enjoyed a seat overlooking the market.

Landlady Lauren Gregory serves customers enjoying The Garnet pub as Covid restrictions are eased. Pi

Landlady Lauren Gregory serves customers enjoying The Garnet pub as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Further outside Norwich, the pace of the rush slowed, and areas including George's Street took on a European café culture vibe as people enjoyed a leisurely lunch.

At The Last, chef Iain McCarten said it had been a day of mixed emotions.

Chef Iain McCarten at The Last, happy to welcome customers back as Covid restrictions are eased. Pic

Chef Iain McCarten at The Last, happy to welcome customers back as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"It feels great to be back," he said, "we've obviously really missed being here - it's gone well and it's been a bit of a shock to the system.

"We're eager to get stuck in, but we were all very nervous, trying to remember how we used to do it. It's gone well though and we've had some amazing feedback."

Customers Chris Cloke and Kelly Barrow enjoying being at The Last pub as Covid restrictions are ease

Customers Chris Cloke and Kelly Barrow enjoying being at The Last pub as Covid restrictions are eased. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Its diners included Chris Cloke and Kelly Barrow, who had enjoyed a drink at the Garnet before moving to Last.

Mr Cloke, who had taken a half day, said: "It's just nice to see everywhere open and to see people - it's as busy as it was at Christmas."

And at the historic Maids Head Hotel, on Tombland, diners were enjoying the chance to eat under its floral canopy, with the team delighted to be welcoming back customers.

Gemma Anderson, left, restaurant manager, and Georgina Postlethwaite, sales manager, in the new cove

Gemma Anderson, left, restaurant manager, and Georgina Postlethwaite, sales manager, in the new covered outdoor space, the Inside Out, at the Maids Head. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021


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