Indoor pubs and bingo halls excited to open from May 17
- Credit: Andrew Conway
Havering venues are hopping with excitement as Covid restrictions ease from May 17 and indoor hospitality and entertainment venues can open.
Alison Taffs, who owns the Hop Inn Hornchurch with partner Phil Cooke, is delighted to welcome back customers from the middle of next week.
The landlady told this paper: “We’re pleased to have kept in touch with our regulars when we’ve been closed, which kept the pub’s community spirit alive.
“We have a really friendly, welcoming environment and know all of our customers, their families and even their dogs."
The couple only opened the micropub in December 2019, and have now added a specialist bottle shop next door.
“We’ve been so much busier than we had ever hoped or dreamed,” Alison added.
Owner of Upminster's Sorrento restaurant Franco Russo is also grateful for the support of locals as he prepares to reopen next week.
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He said: "The customers have been supportive of us, and everything is looking really good.
"I'm a bit worried though, because we don't know if we are going to have to close again, and we've been here before."
Franco, who has owned the restaurant for ten years, has been given permission to add some tables outside, which he hopes will allure customers in throughout the summer.
For a different way to unwind, in-person exercise classes will also reopen from May 17.
Yoga teacher Hanine Waked is bending over backwards to help clients keep fit, as she resumes her weekly yoga and mindfulness classes at Upminster’s Cranham Community Centre.
The Wild Roads Yoga owner said lockdown has given people the opportunity to try something new from the comfort of their homes.
She explained: “We’ve had more time alone with ourselves, with little distraction, and people have realised the importance of looking after their own wellbeing.
“There’s a particular magic to practicing yoga together, and a buzz of doing it side-by-side, that you don’t get online."
Her classes are open to people of all ages and abilities, and will run every Monday from 10.30am-11.30am, and can be booked here: https://www.wildroadsyoga.com/booking/yoga-mindfulness-class
Over in Hornchurch, K's Cakes will be reopening their store from Monday.
Owner Karen Duke has continued to work remotely throughout the past year, but is thrilled to be back in the shop again.
She said: "The customers have been amazing, and WhatsApping me asking when we'll be opening again.
"I can't wait for people to walk back into the shop again and be able to talk to them in-person.
"We've been here so long, they're more like friends than customers now."
The celebration cake bakery has had to adjust the size of its cakes to cater for smaller birthday parties and weddings due to Covid restrictions.
"Hopefully now people can hold bigger celebrations again, and we've had lots of orders coming in for wedding cakes," Karen explained.
K's Cakes has been running for 35 years, with cake decorator Gill Hillman and Karen's mother Madge and sister Kim both helping out in that time.
The shop will be open from 10am to 2pm, Tuesday to Saturday from May 17, and then until 5pm from June 21.
Karen added: "We're just a nice local shop, and we can't wait to return to normal opening hours from June."
Mecca Bingo in The Mercury Shopping Centre is also preparing to get the ball rolling again as it reopens its doors for the first time since December 12, with hot meals available every day from 11am to 10pm and a fully licensed bar.
Centre manager Spencer Hawken explained the bingo hall has implemented new measures to keep customers safe, such as a maximum of two people per table.
He said: “For older players, it's particularly exciting because this is their social life, which for the best part of a year has been taken away from them.
“Being able to see some of their best friends, even from a distance, will be great for them.
“It’s so important to get that social connection again.”
Spencer also stressed younger people were also looking forward to returning to the bingo hall for a few games before a night out.
You can book Mecca Bingo here: https://www.meccabingo.com/club-booking