Hospitality businesses praise patrons for 'community spirit' this summer

A town square with tables scattered around it for social distanced dining

Saffron Walden's hospitality firms have praised customers for showing "community spirit" - Credit: Archant

Pubs, restaurants and cafés in north-west Essex have praised their patrons for showing community spirit over the summer months.

Ahead of National Hospitality Day 2021, which takes place on Saturday (September 18), small businesses have thanked customers for their patience and support.

They have urged customers to continue supporting their 'local' now that offices and classrooms are back in action.

Simon Cleary at the Plough, Great Chesterford, said: "It has been a very difficult time for all pubs and restaurants, so we would urge everybody to make use of their local pub, wherever that is.

"It's not just about us. It's difficult for everybody.

"We would like to thank all the customers for their continued support and show of community spirit over what has been a difficult period.

"Fingers crossed things can only get better."

The Plough, Great Chesterford.

The Plough, Great Chesterford. - Credit: Archant

Pubs throughout the region have faced uncertainty even before the pandemic.

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According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of pubs in the East of England declined by 23% between 2001 and 2020.

Bars and restaurants struggled to stay open, with big brands such as Ask and Prezzo as well as some small pubs closing their Saffron Walden stores since the beginning of the pandemic.

Andreea Dirstar's family used to lease The Gate on Thaxted Road.

Her family left The Gate to start up a new business at The Red Lion, Great Sampford in June.

The Red Lion, Great Sampford

The Red Lion, Great Sampford - Credit: Supplied by Andreea Dirstar

Andreea said: "We have not been in Great Sampford that long, but we have been made to feel really welcome and part of the community straight away.

"Thank you for your support, and for the last few months.

"We are making progress, but I don't think we're quite over the hill yet."

The Wilkins Tea Rooms Saffron Walden, ahead of reopening on April 12, 2021

The Tiptree tearoom in Saffron Walden before it reopened to sit-in customers last April - Credit: Celia Bartlett Photography

Jam manufacturer Wilkin and Sons paid tribute to its Tiptree tea room staff throughout Essex and Suffolk.

Nicky Goldsack, Tiptree tea rooms manager, said: "Hospitality has become more valued over the last year.

"We really appreciate the local people we employ as well as the regulars and visitors who shop in the town, then relax with coffee and cake or a tempting lunch.

"We were all so pleased to re-open the doors of the Tiptree tea room in Saffron Walden and it was good to see customers sitting outside in the courtyard with friends and family."

To celebrate the food and drink industry's "value", four charities supporting the sector have joined forces to create National Hospitality Day 2021.

The National Hospitality Day website reads: "National Hospitality Day is a chance for the nation to say 'welcome back – we’ve missed you' by voting with its feet.

"We’re challenging restaurants, hotels, pubs and foodservice providers up and down the land to pull out all the stops to put on a damned good show and give the nation a reason to fill your tills."

Customers are being urged to support small food and drink businesses, and to donate to one of the four charities - The Drinks Trust, Hospitality Action, The Licensed Trade Charity, or Springboard.

Andy Coleman, who runs The House Group, said it is important to give a "shout-out" to the sector this autumn.

He said his bars - The Market House in Saffron Walden, Cork House in Stansted and Flitch House in Dunmow - are busy again.

Andy said: "Thank you to our regulars for coming back to us!

"When we couldn't open, our staff got lots of messages of support. I got phone calls from regulars checking up on me to make sure that I was alright.

"We see these people so regularly, sometimes more than we see our families, so getting back to normal means a lot.

"It's great that there's a day like National Hospitality Day to fly the flag and give a shout-out to the sector.

"When we closed, it impacted everyone - the suppliers in the area, farmers, brewers, our staff."

More information about National Hospitality Day 2021 is at https://www.nationalhospitalityday.org.uk/

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