Tired but delighted - five businesses look back on first week reopen

From right to left are Jordan Binks, Marco Norman, Megan and Johnathan Keeley

Pubs and restaurants have been busy since they were allowed to serve customers outdoors from April 12. - Credit: Victoria Pertusa

With queues outside the door and the return of familiar faces, plenty of business owners have been in high spirits.

On Monday, April 12, shops deemed non-essential were allowed to reopen and pubs and restaurants able to serve customers outdoors under the government's roadmap.

We spoke to five business owners just before April 12 to see how they were feeling - and now we've revisited them to catch up on their first week back.

Francis Woolf from Woolf & Social. Picture: Courtesy of Woolf & Social

Francis Woolf from Woolf & Social. Picture: Courtesy of Woolf & Social - Credit: Courtesy of Woolf & Social

I'm going straight to the pub

Francis Woolf, at Woolf and Social restaurant on Norwich's Nelson Street, said: "It's been fantastic. We have been really busy so I'm feeling a little bit overworked. We are fully booked this week and next week just about. Everyone seems to be really excited to be out and the customers have been really accommodating adhering to all the guidelines. The phone hasn't stopped ringing.

"Everyone's worn masks and sanitised as they should, we couldn't be more happy with how they have been. I think people are just so happy to be out and socalise they don't mind.

The outdoor seating area added to Woolf and Social restaurant during the pandemic.

The outdoor seating area added to Woolf and Social restaurant during the pandemic. - Credit: Francis Woolf

"We are seeing that later tables are nattering away until closing time - people just want to stay out as long as possible.

"Personally, I'm looking forward to going to the pub. We have a great pub across the road and I haven't had time yet so the first bit of time I get, I'm going straight to the pub."

Eric Snaith, owner of Eric's Fish and Chips and Titchwell Manor Picture: Neil Didsbury

Eric Snaith, owner of Eric's Fish and Chips and Titchwell Manor Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

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Eric Snaith is owner of Titchwell Manor hotel and restaurant, as well as Eric’s Fish and Chips in Holt and Thornham and Eric's Pizza in Thornham.

He said: “It’s been very busy. Straight away we were doing basically double what we expected. We’ve been doing about 200 to 250 pizzas a day, and serving 500 to 600 people a day on the fish and chips side.

“Monday was not such a good day because we got caught out and there were long waits for food. A few of us had a sleepless night figuring out how we were going to do it for the rest of the week. It was a challenge but we’ve got on top of it now - we asked staff to do extra shifts for a couple of weeks. It was difficult because we didn't know how busy we were going to be. 

Eric Snaith preparing pizza in The Yurt at Drove Orchards, Thornham, near Hunstanton Picture: Chris

Eric Snaith preparing pizza in The Yurt at Drove Orchards, Thornham, near Hunstanton Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

"It’s been really pleasing - the weather has helped. 

“People seem to be in a good mood, there are a lot of families about, despite the children going back to school. On the hotel side we’ve opened up a limited number of the outside rooms. 

"The guests that have come back have been really happy and pleased to up on the north Norfolk coast and out and about on the beach."

Deb Dominic, Hairsmiths, Norwich

Deb Dominic, owner of Hairsmiths, reopened her doors after lockdown. - Credit: Jess Coppins

Blinked and the day was gone

Deb Dominic, of Hairsmiths on Norwich's Timber Hill, said: "The first day back and the feeling was glorious. The day was full of 'hair love' and positive vibes all around and it was an amazing return to what we love.

"We had the best first day back in the salon and the most glorious clients. I blinked and the day was gone.

"We love seeing our clients returned to their fabulous selves, we didn't just come back to work after lockdown, we came back in a big way. Our salon turned 10 years old in February and this was our first return aged double figures and we are more energised than ever before."

Hairsmiths, Norwich

The second customer, Susie Wearing, after her colour and cut at Hairsmiths. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

The salon is booked up until the end of May, with Ms Dominic working six days a week, instead of her usual five to cope with the demand. 

Alpacas at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

Alpacas at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis - Credit: Archant

We can only hope for the best

Ray Smith, owner of Camel Park Oasis near Halesworth, said: "We were delighted to have visitors back and everyone seemed to be happy to be here.

"We had a pretty good first week with a lot of people around on holiday before some of the schools went back.

"It's a bit quieter now but we have to get used to the quiet periods when children are back at school and look forward to the weekend. 

"There were a few things we didn't initially do because the guidance was unclear, but we are now doing camel rides again which is a big plus for us.

Ray Smith with animals at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis

Ray Smith with animals at Camel Park Oasis, near Halesworth. PHOTO: Camel Park Oasis - Credit: Archant

"We're working hard to stop people gathering in large groups and making sure everyone is following the guidance carefully, but I think people have the message and were just glad to be out.

"I think it will be good once people get in the habit of things as long as there are no more setbacks. Now we can only hope for the best."

Janes James is set to open a new independent book shop, called Not Just Books, in Thetford's Town Ce

Jane James, of Not Just Books in Thetford, before reopening. - Credit: Emily Thomson

Crime books have been really popular

Jane James, owner of Not Just Books, which opened in Thetford last year, said: “It has been lovely. Just seeing familiar faces and new faces because people are still learning about us.  

“We had queues at a couple of points on Saturday. Everybody has been lovely and positive. It’s about making sure everybody feels comfortable in that space.

"Hopefully on May 17 we will have a book club up and running upstairs. Crime books have been really popular, because it’s that escapism element. But what has been flying out the door are the children picture books, its lovely to see parents supporting their children.  

“The business was put on pause a couple of times, but fingers crossed it’s the way forward now. If things need to change again, they need to change, and we will just adapt and overcome.  

“But people have been incredibly supportive. One lady said she has made a commitment that she is going to buy a couple of books from us a month."

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