Two Grangemouth pub restaurants ready for 'normal' service to resume next week
Monday, May 17 cannot come quickly enough for publicans and business owners throughout the Falkirk area and two establishments at opposite ends of the same road in Grangemouth are looking forward to better days ahead.
The Earl of Zetland and The Abbotsinch were both extremely popular places to enjoy a drink and some food pre-COVID-19, but both premises have been forced to close their doors since Christmas last year.
Four months on and things are looking up.
While alcohol could be served outdoors until 10pm from April 26, no alcohol could be served up inside pubs and food could only be served until 8pm.
Now the Scottish Government has announced, from Monday, May 17, hospitality venues will be allowed to serve alcohol indoors until 10.30pm – but only for two hour slots.
This means customers can pop along for a pint or two – inside a pub – and people can now have a beverage or wine with their meal up to 10.30pm, with a maximum of six people from up to three households able to book a table inside a pub or restaurant.
Craig McEwan, Abbotsinch owner, said: “We’ve been closed since Christmas Day – that was our last day. That’s four months we were shut and it was tough going. We always try to stay ahead of the game so we took the time we had to refurbish the Abbotsinch.”
Not having a beer garden the Abbotsinch opened up on April 26 and just served food with no alcohol.
Craig said: "We never had an outdoor drinking area, we just concentrated on food, but people being able to enjoy a drink with their meal will give us a boost. We have got to be pretty strict with the two hour time slot – I think it’s going to be hard for establishments to police that, but we will do it to the best of our ability.
The 10.30pm closing time will also be an added bonus.
"We’ve been busy since we opened up again on April 26,” said Craig. “But we’ve found the 8pm closing time creates a bit of a rush for us – you have people coming along between 4pm and 6pm so they can make sure they are able to leave before 8pm.”
From Monday The Earl of Zetland is looking to open from noon to 10.30pm seven days a week.
A former church, the venue is fortunate its sheer size means it can adhere to the two metre safe distance guideline without losing capacity. It has also put measures in place to make sure customers and staff are as safe as possible.
Earl of Zetland general manager Jo Waghorn said: "There are eight pubs in our group and they have all put screens up on the floor and bar areas. It will be worth it hopefully that's the last lock down we have to go through and we can stay open.
“We’ve basically been shut since Christmas – we’ve never had this much time off in our lives, so we’re definitely looking forward to opening up again. Our regulars know we are coming back because they follow our Facebook page.”
If everything goes well with these new relaxation of restrictions, the Scottish Government is looking to increase the opening hours to 11pm in June.