Gunwharf Quays businesses report uptick in booking as indoor services resume - with some already reporting a 'chocka' weekend ahead

BUSINESSES from pubs to bowling alleys across Gunwharf Quays have resumed indoor service today to the delight of punters – and bookings are already stacking-up for the weekend ahead.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 6:28 pm
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 6:58 pm

The shopping centre has seen hospitality businesses welcome back customers for indoor service for the first time in months as lockdown restrictions continue to be eased.

Now businesses say trade is better than expected – and some are warning people to book ahead to avoid disappointment this weekend.

Gunwharf Quays restaurant Hub Box is set for a ‘chocka’ weekend now it can seat people inside, according to deputy manager Matt Bowbrick.

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Jade Berry serving up lunch as indoor service resumes at the Old Customs House in Gunwharf Quays. Picture: Mike Cooter (170521)

He said: ‘On Saturday from 1pm to 8.30pm, we are chocka.

‘We have 166 bookings for Saturday. More and more people are definitely calling up to book rather than walk-in.

‘Our phone has been ringing constantly.’

The Vue cinema in the shopping complex should have plenty of space for walk-in customers this weekend, according to team leader Amy Smith, who said the cinema had performed well above expectations on its first day reopened.

Gunwharf Quays restaurant Hub Box is set for a ‘chocka’ weekend now it can seat people inside, according to deputy manager Matt Bowbrick. Picture: Richard Lemmer

She said: ‘We have targets from head office, and today’s target was 400 bookings. We’ve had 675. So we’re happy.

‘Pre-Covid that is really low – we would usually expect 1,000 on a Monday.

‘We have had a lot of bookings for Peter Rabbit 2.’

Those looking to go bowling at Hollywood Bowl may find more time slots fully booked as there has been an increase in longer bookings, according to manger Neil Crouch.

Laura Crawford (25) brought Henry Weaver (28) down from London for the day to visit her old University town, starting at Hollywood Bowl in Gunwharf Quays. Picture: Mike Cooter (170521)

He said: ‘(Today has) not been manic, but it’s been good for a Monday. Three regular groups have already come back in. It’s great to see.

‘For Saturday, we have a lot of bookings already.

‘We are finding we are getting more bookings for two games or longer – there’s clearly a hunger to be out for longer.’

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Paul Stephens, manager at the Old Customs House in Gunwharf Quays welcomes back visitors both indoors and out. Picture: Mike Cooter (170521)

And Neil was one of the few people in the shopping centre to be happy with Monday’s showers.

He said: ‘I was absolutely happy with the horrible weather – it’s bowling gold.’

But the heavens opening didn’t dampen the spirits of those visiting Portsmouth, with people travelling across the country to make the most of indoor hospitality services reopening.

Henry Weaver, 28, and Laura Crawford, 25, came down from London to enjoy a week’s ‘staycation’ break in the city, and the pair said it was ‘really nice’ to have a slice of normality.

Laura said: ‘We have definitely heard a lot of people saying they are going to have a staycation this year.’

Pat Coombes (69) from Norfolk visits her son Michael Coombes (37) at the Old Customs House in Gunwharf Quays. Picture: Mike Cooter (170521)

Meanwhile, for one punter at The Old Customs House, Monday was acting as a stand-in for a cancelled Christmas break.

Michael Coombes, from Whiteley, was enjoying being able to sit inside the pub with his 69-year-old mother after not seeing her for months – as his plans to visit her in Norfolk home were cancelled last minute by the national lockdown.

He said: ‘We celebrating Christmas. We haven’t seen each other in six months. It’s been great to give each other our Christmas presents in person – I got mum some whiskey.’

Michael’s mother, Pat Coombes, said: ‘We’ve to another pub planned. We’re going to make the most of my visit.’

The sense of joy at normal life slowly returning was felt by customers and staff alike, according to the pub’s general manager, Paul Stephens.

He said: ‘There has been a buzz among the staff today and everyone is in good spirits.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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