Friends reunited as Melton pubs and cafes open again

Old friends greeted each other again for the first time in seven months as Melton’s hospitality businesses opened up their indoor areas again this week.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 4:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th May 2021, 9:38 am
Nigel Keep outside his popular Melton cafe, 54A King Street, which has been closed since March because of coronavirus restrictions EMN-210519-121920001

Pubs, restaurants and cafes were permitted to serve customers on outdoors areas from April 12 as coronavirus restrictions were relaxed.

But many chose to stay closed, such as the 54A King Street cafe, until Monday’s indoor reopening go-ahead.

Owner Nigel Keep has outside tables and chairs but he wanted to reopen only when customers could enjoy his food and drink inside or in warmer weather outside.

Nigel told the Melton Times: “We’ve been closed more than seven months so a lot of our regulars are enjoying coming back.

“It’s a social thing, having a cup of coffee, and people seem really grateful for the chance to get out again.”

He added: “We’ve been very busy this week, particularly on Tuesday when the town was really vibrant with the market on. People have been very good at obeying the social distancing measures.”

It has not been so busy at The Grapes pub which had been closed since November.

Landlady Sharon Brown said the fears of a further lockdown due to the rising cases of the Indian variant of Covid were worrying her.

She told the Melton Times: “We can’t open up the pub fully because of the restrictions still being in place indoors and it has put a lot of people off coming back to the pub.

“I am grateful for the money we’ve had from the government but it’s still going to be hard to pay all the overheads the way things are.”

Those customers who are drinking again in The Grapes are clearly happy to be back, however.

Sharon added: “A lot of our regulars haven’t seen each other for seven months so they are so happy to be back.

“We had some regulars come in on the bus on Tuesday and they had tears in their eyes when they arrived.”

Research showed a 59 per cent increase on spending in Melton pubs on Monday compared to a Monday in February in 2020 before the pandemic began.

Banking firm, Revolut, analysed the spending of its 7,000 customers in the Melton area and found the average round was £11.33.

The popular Rural Catering Centre at the town campus of Brooksby Melton College began serving lunches again on Tuesday. It is also open Wednesdays and Fridays, during term times.