It’s sunny, warm-ish and the first weekend since lockdown restrictions were eased – and outdoor pubs, cafes and restaurants have reported “incredible” demand.
After a long winter stuck indoors families and friends haven’t needed any inducements to ‘eat out to help out.’
Unlike last August when Chancellor Rishi Sunak gave everyone a tenner to dine out, people have been booking up venues and queuing patiently as outdoor hospitality swings back into action.
Many pubs have invested heavily in the most lavish beer gardens they’ve ever built – along with outdoor heaters or firepits to protect punters against the evening chill – and they’ve been rewarded with throngs of thirsty customers and ringing tills.
Kirklees Council and Huddersfield Live even brought a hint of Huddersfield Food & Drink Festival back to Huddersfield with three marquees for people to sit awhile and enjoy food and drink from shops, cafes and other outlets in the town centre.
Steve Butcher, who runs The Scullery Kitchen and Bar in Huddersfield, said they had been fully booked since Wednesday though he’d taken delivery of some new furniture this weekend and had two extra tables which were quickly snapped up.
“It’s been incredible,” said Steve. “We’ve been blessed with the weather. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cold, but we have blankets and outside heaters and we have the best customers. They have all come prepared and with the mindset just to enjoy themselves.”
The Scullery is booked up already for next Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the venue can seat 50 people outside.
During lockdown they paved the “muddy mess” lawn and now have a terraced area and an oak shelter – known as the Garden Shed – and people are loving it.
“Everyone likes to dine outside when possible anyway and with the Covid situation a lot of people feel more comfortable outdoors and I think that will continue for a while,” said Steve.
David Stanley at the Beaumont Arms in Kirkheaton described the re-opening as “a new level of busy” with streams of people turning up.
On Friday, the 16th century pub, which has set up huge marquees, welcomed 1,400 people, all signed in on their app.
“We have seats for 380 and it’s just mental,” said David, on his regular Facebook Live video.
There were a few teething troubles which meant longer waits for drinks but David and his staff were on it.
The Rusty Bull at Hinchliffe’s Farm Shop in Netherton was fully booked this weekend with demand also described as “incredible.”
The phone at the Woodman Inn in Thunderbridge has been ringing off the hook all week. The venue has turned its wedding marquee into the tastefully-designed Garden Room. It only opened on Friday and there’s no more bookings being taken for this weekend.
Jordan Lee, events director at the Woodman, summed it up when he said: “It’s just absolutely mental.”
The Venue Bar & Kitchen, nestled in woodland at The Pavilion at Storthes Hall Park near Kirkburton, opens on Thursday (April 22) and promises an “al fresco dining experience like no other.”
The menu offers classic food with a modern twist with diners sat out among natural woodland amid amazing views. Every Friday there will be Live Music on the Terrace, starting with singer-songwriter Jade Helliwell this week.
Unfortunately, a small minority have spoiled it for others and some “unsavoury” behaviour at the Blacksmiths Arms in Kirkheaton – which had invested a significant sum in outdoor wooden booths and a firepit – meant closing times were brought forward this weekend.
The firepit won’t be lit anymore and a statement on the pub’s Facebook page said the way some people had spoken to and treated their staff this week had been “appalling.”
Huddersfield Hub says: No-one minds it being “mental” in a good way but let’s remember we’ve all had a tough year. Let’s eat, drink (but not too much) and be kind. Cheers, everybody!