When the news came that bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen their doors as of the 4th July, the nation raised a pint – literally. It was the start of what became the end of lockdown as we knew it. Manchester is slowly and steadily returning to some form of what it once was or, to use the phase of the year, the 'new normal'.
The hospitality industry in particular has felt the highs and severe lows of the lockdown. Still, as we ease into this next phase, we have been looking at the positive stories and real innovation that our ever-resilient city has shown.
Image - Crazy Pedros
The city has shown innovation by the bucket load, watching top restaurants changing their business models in the space of a day to bring their A La Carte menu to your door (San Carlo saving lockdown date nights since March 2020). Or doing a click and collect of frozen margaritas from Crazy Pedros to sweeten up another Friday night at home. And although the doors are back open doesn't mean it stops here, expect to see plenty of innovation from the industry this summer.
Manchester has always been recognised for its sense of community. It's a brilliant city to live in, and Mancunians are justifiably proud of it – and when the city has faced times of hardship, it’s clearer than ever what a strong network the city has.
As we come out of lockdown, we are seeing rival businesses give each other a shout out on social media. City wide campaigns have been covering the cities screens to show each shop, restaurant, hairdresser and bar just how much we have all missed them. Take a look at some of the pictures of CityCo's 'Welcome Back Manchester Campaign' and The Manc's 'Buzzing to be back' take over the Axis screen.
You can feel the excitement as you venture into town. Oh Manchester, we have missed you!
Image - Alberts Schloss
Adapting to change is nothing the hospitality industry hasn't done before, and whilst everything is opening up, some things certainly do look a bit different. Safety is clearly at the forefront of everyone's mind. Once upon a time if you had a waiter serving you in a mask, you would run for the hills, but now you find it weirdly reassuring.
The two-metre rule is now a one-metre rule, meaning you will see different layouts in some of your favourite joints. The introduction of table service in bars, paying by card, booking your spot in and eating outside are all-new part and parcel of dining out. It's been a tough few months for everyone, making the simple pleasure of eating out with your bubble even sweeter.
Image - Adam Pester
The city itself has had to find ways to adapt. Al fresco dining looks like it is here to stay. With Manchester's local councils letting restaurant and bars pour out onto the pavements making you feel oh so continental. All you have to do is add an Aperol spritz and a floppy hat, and you feel like you are on the French Riviera (weather dependent of course).
Plans for pedestrianising parts of the city have been spoken about for years, (read more here) and now seem be at the top of the councils list. At the moment Thomas Street, Canal Street, King Street, Market Street and Exchange Street in St Anne's Square are all car free, creating a reduced pollution zone and a safe haven for walkers, cyclists anyone who has too many vinos. Hopefully this is something that will be here to stay.
The press seemed sceptical about how the UK would act on what they deemed super Saturday, but it is with great pride that we see businesses and customers embracing the new normal, adhering to government guidelines and enjoying this fabulous city once more.