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‘We’re back doing what we do best’: Hampstead and Highgate pubs and restaurants reopen on Super Saturday

PUBLISHED: 14:38 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 July 2020

Customers outside The Gatehouse in Highgate Village. Picture: Polly Hancock

Customers outside The Gatehouse in Highgate Village. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Hampstead and Highgate’s pubs and restaurants welcomed punters and diners back for the first time in more than three months on ‘Super Saturday’.

Landlord Jimmy McGrath joins customers for a pint inside King William IV in Hampstead High Street. Picture: Polly HancockLandlord Jimmy McGrath joins customers for a pint inside King William IV in Hampstead High Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

July 4 saw boozers and cafes reopen with social distancing measures following the latest round of lockdown easing.

While crowds were often manageable with the weather largely overcast, pubs and restaurants were relieved to see familiar faces again following the Covid-19 lockdown which left many fearing for their future.

David Campbell, general manager of Highgate’s Gatehouse pub, said it was “excellent” to be serving customers and pulling pints once again - “back doing what we do best”.

“It was excellent,” he said. “It is fantastic to be back open serving the community because we are a real community pub.

Staff reopen The Wrestlers on North Road Highgate. Picture: Polly HancockStaff reopen The Wrestlers on North Road Highgate. Picture: Polly Hancock

“The nicest thing is having the staff back in, for sure. Secondly, seeing all the regular faces, all the people we have missed so much over the last three months.

“It was great to see our regulars back and everyone was really happy.”

Down the road, The Wrestlers was equally upbeat about the return to a sense of a normal.

The pub’s assistant manager, Hannah Gardiner, said she was particularly happy to welcome their elderly customers, who despite being at greater risk of Covid-19, felt safe and secure back in their local.

Belsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Business AssociationBelsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Business Association

On social distancing, Hannah said: “It was absolutely fine, people were very sensible.”

In Hampstead, the King William IV’s owner, Jimmy McGrath, said it was “busy as ever” on Saturday, but that Sunday - despite the upturn in weather - didn’t match the opening day’s rush.

He said: “Everyone was so pleased and everyone played to the game on social distancing. It all worked extremely well.

“We’re just looking forward to getting back to normal.”

Queue for the Gatehouse in Highgate Village. Picture: Polly HancockQueue for the Gatehouse in Highgate Village. Picture: Polly Hancock

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The weekend saw in the opening of Belsize’s ‘Streatery’, where restaurants and cafes are serving customers on outdoor tables alfresco-style.

Robert Stephenson-Padron, Belsize Village Business Association’s co-coordinator, said many restaurants were full despite the “poor weather” and that visitors were “joyous”.

He said: “It was heartwarming to see Belsize Village reopen vibrantly and safely after these months of isolation due to the pandemic.”

The Coffee Cup. Picture: Polly HancockThe Coffee Cup. Picture: Polly Hancock

In Finchley Road, Saffron Circle’s managing director Sutish Kumar said it was quieter than anticipated but great to reopen nonetheless.

“It has been brilliant because it has been such a long wait,” he said. “It has been nice to have the regulars back.”

Tuba Gursoy, director of operations for Terra Terra, also based in Finchley Road, said: “It was really good to reopen and the social distancing measures worked well.”

Belsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Business AssociationBelsize Village's streatery where customers are being served alfresco. Picture: Belsize Village Business Association

Customers outside The Gatehouse in Highgate Village. Picture: Polly HancockCustomers outside The Gatehouse in Highgate Village. Picture: Polly Hancock


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