If you’re looking forward to dining out next weekend for the first time in months, get your skates on – table reservations at popular venues are fast becoming hot property.
A Mail on Sunday survey found many restaurants and pubs across the country are already fully booked for their grand reopening on July 4 – dubbed Super Saturday – after Boris Johnson finally gave the green light last week.
Restaurant bosses said tens of thousands of customers bombarded reservation phone lines immediately after the PM’s announcement on Tuesday. Waiting lists for tables on Saturday night at sought-after venues are already understood to be hundreds long.
Restaurant tycoon Richard Caring – who owns some of London’s most famous venues including The Ivy, Scott’s and J Sheekey, the private members’ club Annabel’s and the hugely popular nationwide Ivy brasserie chain – revealed the initial 30 sites he will open on Saturday are nearly all fully booked.
The Ivy Collection brasseries will open on Saturday in Oxford, Guildford, Cambridge, Birmingham and Chelsea (pictured), among other places, as will Scott’s and Sexy Fish in Mayfair, London
‘The phone lines exploded, it was incredible,’ he told The Mail on Sunday last night.
‘The first Saturday, July 4, was booked up pretty much immediately almost everywhere and bookings have continued into July, right across the country from central London to the countryside to Manchester.
‘The excitement has not only been with customers but with our staff, who are thrilled to be returning to work, which is hugely positive.’
The Ivy Collection brasseries will open on Saturday in Oxford, Guildford, Cambridge, Birmingham and Chelsea, among other places, as will Scott’s and Sexy Fish in Mayfair, London.
Private members’ club Annabel’s, one of the capital’s most fashionable venues, already has a 400-strong waiting list for Saturday.
Restaurateur Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, is opening 17 restaurants on Saturday, and all are fully booked. The most popular is 20 Stories (pictured) in Manchester, which has taken 500 bookings for Saturday
Despite the huge demand, only around half of hospitality firms will reopen on July 4, according to an industry survey of major chains.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels and other hospitality venues are being allowed to host customers again under one-metre social distancing. However, they are being encouraged to take reservations and register customers’ names and contact details.
Each business will follow the Government’s ‘one-metre-plus’ social distancing guidelines in its own way – for example, some are installing glass or Perspex screens between tables and others switching to table-only service to discourage people standing at the bar.
Celebrity chef Rick Stein last week began taking bookings for eight restaurants that will reopen on Saturday, including three in Padstow, Cornwall – The Seafood Restaurant, St Petroc’s Bistro and Rick Stein’s Café – which are popular with well-heeled holidaymakers.
Celebrity chef Rick Stein last week began taking bookings for eight restaurants that will reopen on Saturday, including three in Padstow, Cornwall – The Seafood Restaurant, St Petroc’s Bistro and Rick Stein’s Café – which are popular with well-heeled holidaymakers
By last night, he had booked in 2,600 people across the eight restaurants on the opening weekend, with 12,850 people so far booked over the summer and into the autumn.
Executive chef Jack Stein, Rick’s son, said the firm’s booking systems had ‘taken a battering’ last week due to an ‘unprecedented’ spike in bookings.
‘We have never seen numbers like that in our entire history,’ he said. Tables are available for up to eight guests from no more than two households.
Restaurateur Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, is opening 17 restaurants on Saturday, and all are fully booked. The most popular is 20 Stories in Manchester, which has taken 500 bookings for Saturday.
Bluebird in Chelsea, Le Pont de la Tour near Tower Bridge and three restaurants in Leeds – Angelica, Crafthouse and Issho – are also all full this Saturday after each taking around 300 bookings.
Peter Borg-Neal, chief executive of Oakman Inns, said he had taken 12,340 bookings for the opening seven days. Pictured, Sexy Fish Restaurant in Mayfair
Mr Gunewardena said: ‘We are full this weekend – and the rest of the weekends in July are looking good too.’
Peter Borg-Neal, chief executive of Oakman Inns, has taken 5,340 bookings for July 4 across his 25 pubs outside London.
Five pubs are fully booked, including The Betsey Wynne in Swanbourne and The Akeman in Tring, and five more in Ascot, Farnham, Milton Keynes, Abingdon and Amersham are close to capacity.
Last night, Mr Borg-Neal said he had taken 12,340 bookings for the opening seven days – and said enquiries were still flooding in. ‘That number is going up all the time as the phone is still ringing,’ he said.
Due to the surge in demand, he has told customers hoping to visit his pubs this weekend that they cannot turn up without a booking.
‘There seems to be a genuine wave of enthusiasm for getting out and socialising again,’ Mr Borg-Neal said.
Richard Caring, who two weeks ago told The Mail on Sunday that Boris Johnson risked a ‘volcano’ of two million job losses if he did not urgently reboot the hospitality industry, added: ‘I must praise the Prime Minister for taking this courageous but calculated step. Cutting the two-metre rule to one-metre-plus has given business the opportunity to become viable.’