On July 4th restaurants, cafes and bars are able to open once again after four months of closure. While we’re all excited to see old haunts and familiar faces, to eat food made for us by someone not in our household, to drink beer pulled through a pump, to receive a recommendation, we also know things are going to be different. Here in Brighton, we have always been in great hands and that will be exactly the same.
It might be a long slow recovery for our beloved independent food and drink scene. Businesses will continue to have to adapt as we see what shapes the world gives us. We continue to work with our local independent restaurants, cafes, and bars, and we have some good ideas about how you can support them too.
Beer gardens provide a good middle-space for those desperate to get back into their local, here’s our guide to our favourites in Brighton, Hove and beyond, and you can bet with time on their hands our publicans have been making them super lovely. With space at a premium in the city, roof terraces are an elevated outdoor escape, here are some well and less well known heavenly escapes. These restaurants and bars all have alfresco dining space, for balmy daytimes and long evening reunions.
Private dining is a good way to create a more controlled environment when meeting friends or family for that much-desired reunion. Several very good establishments in Brighton and Hove have private dining rooms for small parties, providing you the privacy for all those tears of joy and outpourings of love, for family and fine-food alike.
Some venues simply will not be opening from the 4th July, there are numerous reasons for this, some laid out plainly here by Cambridgeshire restauranteur Alex Rushmer. Others will only open partially. Over the lockdown months, many venues have developed innovative ways of getting their dining experience into your home and these are likely to still make up essential revenue for them. If nothing else lockdown has changed how we think about takeaway forever.
Pick up in restaurants will take its time, the knock-on effect hits local producers who supply into the industry. By continuing to buy from these local producers growers and farm shops you’re eating well and helping protect the people who provide the people who provide you! Many businesses who were previously industry-focussed will continue with their own retail arm, buying from these producers direct makes for great gifts to send nationally; say it “From Sussex With Love”.
While venues are either operating at reduced capacity or choosing not to rush to reopen you can still help them stay afloat. Show your commitment to the future and buy a gift voucher for a friend or yourself to cash in when the time is right. This is a beautiful thing to do and goes some way in supporting your independents. We’ve pulled together a list of some that are offering vouchers to buy online here.
Write a review
Some venues will take a while to return, and it is likely that they will face unprecedented worries about the future of their business. Show some love by writing them a review on our website and we’ll make sure they know about it. Why leave a review with us? Restaurants Brighton is a locally run business, with a small team all based locally, we directly invest back into the local economy (and we pay our taxes); the same cannot be said of some of the national and global review websites. Your input helps us compete against those big players.
Make a wish list
If you’re not ready to venture into social dining then you can still plan ahead! On the Restaurants Brighton website you can create your own wish list, simply use the heart icon to save your favourites in a list ready to experience in person when you’re ready. There will be a lot of catching up to do, once the air has cleared, and doing it in an independent local bar or restaurant will help breathe much-needed resources back into the local economy.
When the government announced they were cutting VAT to 5% for the food and drink industry, some large chains announced they would be passing this onto their customers. For large chains, where cheap prices and high volume turnover is the business model, this makes sense, but for small businesses and independents, it doesn’t. The VAT reduction is a lifeline to recovery that independents cannot pass on to customers, and shouldn’t be expected to.