'Enjoy a slice of Essex on hospitality day', says culture chief
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"Explore what's on your doorstep" this National Hospitality Day, one of Essex's leaders has urged.
Councillor Graham Butland, who is responsible for culture at Essex County Council, said National Hospitality Day will give residents a chance to find hidden food and drink gems in their area.
He has joined Saffron Walden Business Improvement District (BID) and Great Dunmow's mayor in urging customers to celebrate small food, drink and accommodation businesses on Saturday, September 18.
Cllr Butland said: "We’ve all enjoyed reconnecting with friends and family over the past couple of months and being able to safely create new memories.
"We’re encouraging residents to explore what’s on their doorstep – from the well-known attractions to the hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
"Not only might you discover something new, you will also be supporting local businesses after what has been a difficult 18 months for many.
"These businesses have worked incredibly hard to adapt to the current circumstances and are ready to welcome you safely.”
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Over the past week, cafés and pubs have told this newspaper that they have worked hard to create friendly, safe spaces for residents to enjoy spending time away from home or work.
Shara Vickers, Saffron Walden BID Chair, said she is "proud" of how well the town has recovered.
Shara said: "Hospitality businesses in our town centre have survived an incredibly tough time.
"The Saffron Walden BID team is so proud of how hard they've worked and what they have achieved.
"We welcome the exciting new businesses that have opened up offering delicious food and drink.
"We encourage everyone to take a bit of extra time to pop in and enjoy what we have to offer."
Councillor Patrick Lavelle, Mayor of Great Dunmow, said: "We are so fortunate in Great Dunmow to have so many excellent pubs, bars and restaurants where we can relax, enjoy ourselves and celebrate with our friends.
"It is really important that we support our local businesses and enjoy each other's company after a difficult time."
Over the past week businesses have thanked customers for showing support after the pandemic.
In Rayne, Tracy Wilson from the Welsh Princess urged customers to follow the motto "use it or lose it" in their local pub.
Tracy warned: "We're so lucky. We have such a big, supportive community here, so we have been able to carry on.
"That's not the story everywhere."
Nicky Goldsack, Tiptree tea rooms manager in Saffron Walden, said: "Hospitality has become more valued over the last year.
"We really appreciate the local people we employ as well as the regulars and visitors who shop in the town, then relax with coffee and cake or a tempting lunch."
More information about National Hospitality Day 2021 is online: https://www.nationalhospitalityday.org.uk/