May 17 foreclosure rules: What Reading looked like as businesses welcomed customers inside

Bars, cafes and restaurants were all busy after lockdown restrictions were lifted

The owners of Reading bars, pubs and cafes were all lively when they first greeted restaurant patrons this year.

The government’s roadmap has now eased restrictions on coronaviruses, which has prevented businesses from allowing customers in and reservations are now being taken as owners seek some sense of normalcy to return.

BerkshireLive traveled to Reading to speak to business owners who have had a very difficult time in the past 18 months with the closure, reopening and leave of staff.

The city center itself was not very crowded, as you would expect on a rainy Monday, but people were enjoying dinner again.

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We spoke to Pete Hefferan, owner of the Shed Cafe at Merchants Place, which was operating as take out until May 17th.

He said: “I am motivated. Most of our clients are young professionals, people who work in offices.

“They go out for their lunch and they have kind of a short window, a lunch break.

“Most of these people now spend at least part of their week at home, so we’ve seen a massive drop in sales.

“It’s almost like going back to level one on a video game that you play really well, it’s a lot slower and a little more relaxed.

“It gave us a little more time to organize some things and we also have a little more time for each of our clients.

“One thing we have learned over the past year is that we are able to change and adapt quickly, which is important.

“I think we’ll see a lot of ups and downs over the next few months.”

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Another business owner, Andrew Norman, manager of Valpy Street Bar and Bistro, said: “It’s very exciting to be back. We made take out for one which has certainly helped us, but now we are back.

“Our bookings are very good, we are now booked for at least next month which is great.

“I can’t see another lockdown, they can’t, they already have such a scapegoat for the hospitality industry.”

Ads have struggled a lot throughout the pandemic.

We also spoke to Kathleen O’Connell, the owner of The Bugle in Friar Street, which was open for the first time in seven months.

She said: “We have been closed since November. It was unreal.

“We have no garden or outdoor space. We are a real regular pub and it’s so nice to see them again.

“I have been here for 11 years and I dread more lockdowns because that will be the end of us here.”

Our photographer Darren Pepe was in town to capture the action.

Have you ever ventured out to dinner? Let us know in the comments below

About Glenda Wait

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