'Absolutely crazy' - Beer gardens bustle on first weekend open
- Credit: Mick Howes
Trade at beer gardens in Great Yarmouth and Waveney was non-stop on the first Saturday after pubs reopened for outdoor socialising.
Michael John Pywell, who owns the King's Arms, on Northgate Street in Great Yarmouth, said: "It was crazy, I think is the word. We had to turn away as many people as we served. It was absolutely crazy.
"We had one person on the door, taking people to their bookings.
"Our Facebook page was pinging, the phone didn't stop ringing. One member of staff had to sit beside the phone all evening, taking calls, telling people we were fully booked.
"Because of the year we've had, we've not made any money, so it was nice to hear the tills ringing again.
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"It has to be table service, so I've taken on three extra staff."
Mr Pywell had 14 employees working on Saturday (April 17).
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"Even normally on a busy day we'd have five or six," he said.
"The strange thing is, it's freezing once the sun goes down, but people are willing to sit in the cold and have a pint.
"They've missed it," he added.
Shaun Waters, landlord at the Norman Warrior, on Fir Lane in Lowestoft, echoed the sentiment.
"It's been absolutely crazy," he said. "We'd never seen anything like it in our lives. I can't count how many people we had to turn away yesterday.
"Staff have been absolutely fantastic," he added.
"We're really pleased. Everybody has been sticking to the rules. Everyone has been quite patient. With a full garden, it's 150 people, so we can't get to people straightaway."
The pub opens until 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and until 6pm on other days.
"We feel that once it gets to 4.30pm or 5pm the temperature really goes down. It's unfortunate, considering the good weather we had this time last year," Mr Waters said.
He will be advertising for two new members of staff, due to how busy it has been.
Janet Carr, landlady at the Wherry Inn, in Geldeston, said it has been "non-stop".
Not far away, Nick Emberley, who mans the taps at his daughter Mandy Dawe's pub, the Bear and Bells, in Beccles, said: "We were delightfully busy. It was a great day. Town was busy. We served very successfully up until 9pm, when the people started to freeze to death.
"You can't continue drinking beer with gloves on," he said.
He added that the pub will be hiring more staff for when it fully reopens in May.