Pubs and restaurants enthusiastic about festive celebrations after restrictions were lifted last Christmas

People are bracing for Christmas with returning parties and gatherings after last year’s Covid regulations in the county – but some places aren’t seeing the influx of bookings they usually would.

Pubs and restaurants are gearing up for what is normally the busiest time of year for them with work groups and families meeting ahead of the holiday season.

When the hospitality industry was shut down last December, workgroups were all canceled, so many teams registered their reservations, but ad manager believes some employers are still avoiding holding group meetings .

Gary Smith is the manager of Bridgewater in Darwen and he said he hasn’t seen the usual number of bookings and thinks employers may still be hesitant to book parties.

Gary said, “We don’t have a lot of bookings. Normally they arrive in late August or early September but we haven’t had them.

“We went out to talk to businesses and have started seeing more bookings since then.

“To be honest, I think employers are always cautious. The last thing you want is to throw a party with a lot of employees and everyone ends up catching Covid.

“I’m looking forward to Christmas this year though.

“We are preparing the decorations this week for the lighting of the light on Saturday.”

Steven and Rebecca Prince are owners and hostesses of Gray Mare in Belthorn and have been running the pub for over 20 years.

Over the years, many Christmas parties have passed through the door; Rebecca said she believed that because people couldn’t come together to celebrate last year, this year will be bigger than ever.

She said: “I would say we are busier. People seem eager to get out.

“We’re going to make this year bigger and better than before.

“We’re trying to get more people in now that we have the marquee with the heaters that we’ll be decorating for Christmas.

“It’s very exciting to welcome people back for parties after missing them last year.

“We are very busy, especially on weekend evenings, some days are already full. ”

Andrew Novak, who runs the Firepit and Grill chain, said the Rawtenstall branch is busier than usual and the new Blackburn restaurant has recently started to expand.

He said: “It’s starting to pick up – we’re full at Rawtenstall on Christmas Day which is faster than normal.

“Christmas parties are pretty much the same as usual, I would say.

“Blackburn is starting to get busier and busier, but it’s hard to say what the first year will be like.

“In general, it serves well.”

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