Great Dunmow businesses reflect on reopening after lockdown eases

PUBLISHED: 08:00 10 July 2020

The Chameleon Cafe in Great Dunmow has reopened after coronavirus restrictions eased and is now selling ice cream. Pictured are Emily Houghton and Deanne Houghton. Picture: Alan Stratton

The Chameleon Cafe in Great Dunmow has reopened after coronavirus restrictions eased and is now selling ice cream. Pictured are Emily Houghton and Deanne Houghton. Picture: Alan Stratton

Alan Stratton

Businesses have made changes to welcome customers back safely after lockdown eased

Signage on the floor at The Chameleon Cafe in Great Dunmow. Picture: Alan StrattonSignage on the floor at The Chameleon Cafe in Great Dunmow. Picture: Alan Stratton

Businesses have made changes to welcome customers back safely after lockdown eased.

Alan Stratton, co-owner at The Chamelon Cafe in Great Dunmow, said reopening on Saturday was a positive experience after an initial slow start when everyone seemed to be getting haircuts, and they were busy from 11.30am to 5pm.

Their pottery cafe turned into a take away cafe during lockdown, and now has reopened with chairs and tables brought back from storage and they are offering pottery painting and a cafe menu again, with the addition of an ice cream counter.

There are floor markings showing social distancing and a one way system, table bookings can be made in advance, and customers on arrival give their name and contact details in case they need to be contacted about a potential outbreak in the future.

The Flitch House in Great Dunmow's garden with socially distanced tables and chairs.The Flitch House in Great Dunmow's garden with socially distanced tables and chairs.

The cafe is still accepting cash but prefers contactless payment where possible.

Alan said the success of adding ice cream was spotting a gap in the market. “We researched it, contacted suppliers, bought a display freezer. It has been absolutely brilliant!”

Andy Coleman of The Flitch House wine bar in Dunmow, The Cork House in Stansted and The Market House in Saffron Walden, said Saturday had a “buzzy crowd” atmosphere.

“It was good to be back,” he said. “In the hospitality sector, everybody has got to stick to the same guidelines. It’s going to become the norm. How long that will be is looking into a crystal ball.”

The Flitch House now has more tables and chairs in their outdoor garden area, and Mr Coleman said customers had gravitated towards the outdoors tables.

And in Stansted at The Cork House, pub regulars were able to get back to their routine of a visit for the company and the drinks, something which has been missing for months.

Customers are greeted, are shown to a table as it’s seating only for service both inside and outside in the garden. Customers can scan a QR code on the table for a digital version of the menu. Alternatively there are disposable menus available.

Tables are for up to six people, there are multiple automatic sanitiser stations, and they have an enhanced cleaning schedule. Card payment is preferred and has skyrocketed in popularity.

They are continuing to do take away food, something they only tried shortly before lockdown and which will carry on.

Laura Gibson front of house operations manager at the Angel and Harp in Dunmow, which also has the Axe and Compasses in Aythorpe Roding in its group, said Sunday went really well.

“We have lovely customers. Everybody was sticking to the rules.”

There are disposable food and drink menus, sanitiser points for staff and customers and an enhanced cleaning schedule.

Staff have face masks and gloves. Customers are socially distanced from each other, and have to sit, with no more than six at a table.

Laura said: “We have time restrictions on the table so that everybody can get a chance.

“We have a large garden with lots of tables. It’s three hours outside and inside it’s two hours.”

They are still serving food. They started offering takeaway food several months ago and that has been successful so it continues.

In May they created a stall selling fruit, vegetables and plants in the car park which continues, and have offered delivery or collection option for meat packs.

Laura said these additions have helped to keep people in jobs.


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