Pubs are reopening on the 4th of July, and this is why we should be going
My first memory of visiting the pub is being bribed with salt & vinegar crisps and syrupy sweet blackcurrant squash that stung and glossed my lips in equal measures, all at the sacrifice of watching my Dad play squash in the local sports centre.
The smell of malty ale, wooden floorboards and maybe a crackling fire, even aged eight, was always a welcome relief from that of sweat and cheap deodorant as we walked into the local boozer for Dad’s after-match pint of bitter (and my hard-earned reward).
Whilst that was my first memory, it certainly hasn’t been my last. From family gatherings and country walks, to awkward first dates and staying at a garden table for hours on end with friends coming and going, often with lunch, dinner and a lot of laughter filling our stomachs, the pub has always been a constant feature of our lives. Ever eternal, a place of comfort and a place of familiarity.
The memories and feelings generated in a pub can rarely be captured anywhere else. They are establishments that have played host to generations, are finely woven within their local community and whose bartenders and landlords have an almost supernatural ability to remember names, faces and regulars’ favourite tipples and tables. Their reach and influence are so great that even the whisper of “do you fancy going to the pub?” warms the body and dries the mouth.
But despite their perpetual feature in all our lives, pubs are forever fragile – now more than ever. Three pubs closed their doors for good each day before coronavirus swept through our streets. Now, after over three months of forced closure, many more won’t reopen.
From 4 July, the pub industry will begin to upturn the chairs from the tables, chalk the boards and open their doors. It may be gradual – Fuller’s will be opening 27 pubs from 4 July but expect most to be open by August. It may appear different – table service indoors, fewer people inside, different opening hours. But one thing is for sure, the parts we love will remain.
I understand the cautiousness of the public with the idea of flocking back to the pub. I myself have lived a sheltered, nervous-like isolation that could seem extreme next to pictures of flooded beaches. Yet when it comes to the hospitality industry, I have complete confidence. Let’s not forget, a third of hotels have been open throughout to house the vulnerable, homeless and key workers and not a single case has arisen. Astonishing, until you remember that pubs and hotels are experts in food hygiene and customer safety.
Industry leaders, landlords and publicans have worked tirelessly with the government throughout their closure to make the pub experience as safe, seamless and genuine as possible.
I understand that not everyone is going to feel comfortable rushing back to their local, but I do believe we owe it to the pub to give it love and support. For the good times, for playing host to our best memories and for the care and attention they’ve given us on a daily basis. If all that comes with table service or an order and pay app, then mine’s a pint of Hophead with some fish and chips please.