Delaying restrictions hasn’t stopped the region’s hospitality sector from safely re-opening – some key Heart of the City II developments have even launched.

Matt Holmes, Jade March, Bronte Saulle and Jill Theobald discover how well-prepared the region’s industry is to address the challenges and opportunities.

 

Raffina

Caffe Bar & Ristorante, Raffina Coffee & Deli

Address: Ground Floor, 837 Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield S11 8TH, Ground floor, Unit B5, Fox Valley Way, Stocksbridge, Sheffield S36 2AB

Name and job title: Achille Travaglini, operations manager

 

How have you found opening/launching your venue during the existing restrictions on hospitality? What measures have you put in place?

Challenging and exciting at the same time. The main challenge was the new way of sourcing material and equipment virtually during the lockdown. However, we planned every detail well ahead, ensuring a smooth opening. We felt lucky to have the opportunity to open a brand-new concept during the pandemic.

Government guidelines have been implemented within our premises. We took extra measures such as reduced opening times, contactless payments, an online ordering system, and plenty of equipment to ensure sanitation at all times.

How do you feel the South Yorkshire business community has addressed the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic compared with others in your industry nationally?

Very agile and flexible. We’ve seen brand new venues opening and many existing businesses re-adapting for the new normal. The advantage of being a big city made up of small villages made a huge difference in keeping up business levels.

We are confident more businesses will choose to open in this region soon, investing in local product/brands.

With restrictions continuing into July, how well-prepared do you feel the region’s hospitality sector is?

Many businesses decided to hold re-opening in May, aiming to re-open on June 21, so this will divert some plans.

However, a few more weeks could help businesses get ready and test the field, considering we are now looking at the end of the restrictions rather than another lockdown. Keep positive and plan ahead is our motto at Raffina!

 

Blend Kitchen

Address: Wards exchange, 197 Ecclesall Rd, Sheffield S11 8HW

Name and job title: Chris Hanson, founder and head chef

 

How have you found opening/launching your venue during the existing restrictions on hospitality? What measures have you put in place?

Well, first of all, opening a hospitality business at any time is hard work, high risk and unpredictable. But when you consider the goal posts to trading have been moving dramatically pretty much on a monthly basis for over a year – it’s like setting off to sail the Atlantic with no map, no rudder and literally no idea if the weather will be a force 10 gale or a mill pond!

We originally planned to open in January 2021 – we could have attempted to trade as a takeaway only as many did – but decided to wait until the April outside dining go-ahead. Luckily, as we are a training restaurant for vulnerable adults, from February onwards we were able to take on paid training contracts and continue to support our trainees behind closed doors. This ability to be commercially nimble and diversify our revenue streams has proved critical to coping with this vastly changing landscape we currently exist in.

How do you feel the South Yorkshire business community has addressed the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic, compared with others in your industry nationally?

It’s quite difficult to gauge just how others have responded. The reality is hospitality has been hit so hard that each business has had to fight their own battle to survive – I know it’s been a very lonely and often dark place for business owners. But there has been a definite sense of comradery and peer support that has been evident.

At Blend Kitchen we have tried to play an active role in sharing information on possible grants and signposting to support and advice, particularly within the not-for-profit community that have been suffering just as much as anyone.

It is clear there is a team effort in Sheffield right now – we’ve seen incredible and positive action from the Chamber of Commerce, Sheffield City Council, the BID team and Business Sheffield, as well as a huge number of business networking groups that have ‘gone virtual’ to keep the cogs turning and protect the mental health of business owners.

With restrictions continuing into July, how well-prepared do you feel the region’s hospitality sector is?

In my opinion, the lifting of restrictions will be a real double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is potential to welcome many more customers through the door with no limitations.

But on the other hand, the huge numbers of nervous and anxious people that are not coming out at the moment, are perhaps even less likely to venture out with no restrictions or safety measures in place and feel even less confident.

The only way our region’s hospitality sector can prepare – is to prepare for the unexpected! And be quick and nimble enough to adapt and tweak their offering as the bumpy ride to ‘normality’ continues.

 

 

The GasLamp Brasserie and Bar

Address: 131 Bawtry Rd, Wickersley, Rotherham S66 2BW

Name and job title: Gail and Darren Baker, owners of The GasLamp Brasserie and Bar.

 

How have you found opening/launching your venue during the existing restrictions on hospitality? What measures have you put in place?

When the country went into lockdown in March 2020 no-one could have predicted that we would still be living under restrictions 16 months later. But if this year has taught us anything it is that we are able to adapt to Government guidelines quickly, we are resilient and we have fantastic staff and customers.

We’ve tried to find the silver lining in the restrictions and have adapted our business accordingly.

We have a limit on capacity, and we are currently unable to welcome customers to the bar. However, we have welcomed the booking system as we can plan our staffing, we can plan better for the ordering of stock, and we have a more organised approach to the business.

We ask our customers to sanitise their hands when they walk through the door, have their temperature taken and ask them to wear a mask when away from their table. We have put in all the precautions needed for our customers to stay safe and so we meet the Government guidance.

During the times where we were completely closed, we took the time to reassess our processes. This has really helped now that we’re back open and we can work more efficiently than ever before.

How do you feel the South Yorkshire business community has addressed the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic, compared with others in your industry nationally?

We are so lucky in South Yorkshire to have a supportive and vibrant business community – especially in the hospitality sector.

Wickersley is a really nice place to not only live but to visit and we have found that over the last year people have really come together to help support independent retailers and bars and restaurants.

The hospitality sector in general has been one of the hardest hit and those challenges have been well documented but all we can ask for is support – and our customers and staff have shown us nothing but loyalty throughout.

We have all had to adapt our offering and it’s been interesting to see how businesses have altered their output. People have really come together to support one and other and it is the community spirit of South Yorkshire that makes us proud to contribute to the sector.

With restrictions continuing into July, how well-prepared do you feel the region’s hospitality sector is?

We have learnt so much over this period and if we can get through this, we can get through anything. When bars, restaurants, cafes and venues can operate at full capacity, we truly believe that the sector will fly.

Each time restrictions are eased we see an increase in bookings and we have to consider that people have more than a year’s worth of celebrating and catching up to do – so venues should be ready for that!

We are a resilient region, and the sector will bounce back. It will be hard, but it will be worth it and we can’t wait to operate at full capacity and welcome back more of our customers soon!

 

 

The Furnace

Address: Unit 7 & 8, Block D, Heart of the City, Sheffield S1 4HS

Name and job title: Lewis Mackay, general manager of The Furnace

 

How have you found opening/launching your venue during the existing restrictions on hospitality? What measures have you put in place?

It is not the perfect situation for hospitality businesses – both new and established. That said, we are very pleased with how our launch has gone and encouraged for both the short and long-term. The Sheffield community, which we know well through our other venue, The Botanist, has been supportive and we’re now just excited to show off our new Sheffield-dedicated brand.

There is a real desire from the public to get back out there and support businesses. People have been in lockdown and unable to socialise with friends and family for a long time and we are witnessing people of all ages using the city centre once again for meeting and relaxing.

We are currently taking table bookings, plus a limited number of walk-ins. Our outside terrace is proving very popular during the recent good weather.

Customers are, of course, required to use the track-and-trace app upon arrival and facemasks must be worn when not seated at your table.

How do you feel the South Yorkshire business community has addressed the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic, compared with others in your industry nationally?

The Sheffield business community adapted and reacted very quickly – no one saw the last 12-months coming. There is definitely a good support network and a sense of togetherness between businesses, who are committed to bouncing back stronger than ever.  We have a lot of confidence in the North and the Sheffield City Region. As soon as indoor/outdoor restrictions were loosened, we couldn’t wait to open our doors and welcome the public back.

With restrictions continuing into July, how well-prepared do you feel the region’s hospitality sector is?

Sheffield is a strong and resilient city and we’re confident the hospitality sector is well- placed to thrive again. One of the reasons we were attracted to the city is the Heart of the City plans.

Alongside us, Heart of the City will welcome more great hospitality venues, including Cambridge Street Collective and Radisson Blu.

We are confident this area will become even more of a key destination post-COVID-19 and appeal to visitors, midweek workers, students and the weekend crowd alike.

 

Business name: Magna Science & Adventure Centre

Address: Magna Way, Templeborough, Rotherham S60 1FD 

Name and job title: Stuart Ballard, education manager.

How have you found opening/launching your venue during the existing restrictions on hospitality? What measures have you put in place?

We opened our doors to visitors for the first time since South Yorkshire entered Tier 3 lockdown on 29 May. Like many businesses, we weren’t sure what to expect and how a reduced capacity would impact upon visitors returning to the attraction.

Keeping our visitors safe and adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines has been our top priority. Within the attraction we spent a lot of time preparing to welcome visitors back.

We have introduced a one-way system to explore the attraction and hand sanitiser points within all pavilion areas, enabling visitors to enjoy the interactive exhibits while keeping safe.

One of the biggest challenges we have faced has been the sheer scale of the cleaning operation. Cleaning all handrails, exhibits and touchpoints regularly throughout the day is no mean feat, especially considering the sheer size of Magna!

How do you feel the South Yorkshire business community has addressed the challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic, compared with others in your industry nationally?

Facing adversity can often bring out the best in us all and I think that’s certainly true of South Yorkshire’s business community. In the hospitality sector this hasn’t just meant venues themselves have faced challenges, but those businesses which rely upon them.

Every aspect of the supply chain has been impacted by COVID-19 and while we are clearly living through very uncertain times, the financial support provided by the government has helped many businesses rise to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

We have always tried to support local suppliers where possible and with many of the businesses we work with facing similar challenges to our own, I think there’s been a lot of understanding and support.

Many businesses have used the pandemic to adapt, innovate and seized upon new business opportunities and Magna is certainly no exception.

With restrictions continuing into July, how well-prepared do you feel the region’s hospitality sector is?

The way in which many businesses across the region have successfully adapted during lockdown illustrates the resilience of the sector. However, it takes time to re-start any business in the hospitality sector, and the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, is likely to cause a headache for some time to come, particularly when it comes to recruiting staff.

My own view is that we will live with the impact of COVID-19 for some time yet, and I suspect there will be difficult times ahead for many businesses if Britain enters into another lockdown in the future.

For attractions like Magna, the summer months are one of our busiest times of the year and with more people opting to enjoy staycations, I think this will present clear opportunities for the region’s hospitality sector.

 

Popular cafe chain launches third site as lockdown eases

Popular Sheffield café chain Marmadukes has responded to growing demand from loyal customers with the opening of a third site in the city.

Having acquired the new premises in 2020 with the support of Law firm Banner Jones’ commercial team, the restorations of the former sorting office on Ecclesall Road were delayed because of COVID-19 related lockdowns.

With Marmadukes cafes also situated on Cambridge Street and Norfolk Row, the latest premises will boast an artisan bakery and food shop with a zero waste section, and an oat milk dispensary.

A pastry kitchen downstairs with a separate entrance has also been fitted where the team will make bespoke celebration cakes for customers, and a driveway area to the side will play host to barbecues.

Andrew Fielder, a commercial property expert at Banner Jones, said: “Husband and wife team Tim and Clare Nye have worked tirelessly to create a brand that is well loved by many for the quality of the food and drink that they serve, as well as their efforts around sustainability.

“With such a fantastic team around them we are sure of their continued success and we wish them all the luck with their latest venture.”

 

 

New city centre rooftop bar opens

Alto, a stylish new rooftop bar in Sheffield city centre, has officially opened its doors.

Alto is located on the top floor of Cubo – the new modern coworking and private office destination in the refurbished four-story building at 38 Carver Street.

The contemporary and relaxed venue boasts an outdoor rooftop terrace, as well as a VIP area, DJ booth, built-in seating areas and a range of drinks, beers, cocktails, and food.

The rooftop terrace, in particular, will add a new dynamic to Sheffield’s social scene and is sure to be popular throughout the upcoming summer months.

Both Cubo and Alto are the creation of Marc and Rebecca Brough – under their parent company Staton Young. They have previously opened both brands in Nottingham to huge success, and – since lockdown measures were eased – Alto Nottingham has been virtually fully booked.

Said Rebecca. “We want to provide a fantastic space with a great atmosphere and bring a brand-new social hub to the city centre.”

Councillor Terry Fox, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “It has been a difficult year for everyone, so it’s particularly pleasing to see such a great social space open up for our residents and visitors to enjoy and another fantastic new addition to Sheffield’s evolving cityscape.”

Andrew Davison, project director at Queensberry, added: “Heart of the City is delivering a renewed vibrancy to the city of Sheffield, creating a sustainable and exciting mix of workspaces, residential, retail, social and cultural venues.”

You May Also Like