SUNDAY REFLECTION

The Merry Harriers, Hambledon’s 16th Century village pub, reopened just over a month ago as lock-down restrictions eased. This involved a great deal of hard work and planning to ensure it could keep locals, visiting guests and staff safe. In this week’s Reflection, general manager Jake Andreou looks back on how things have gone.

One month on from re- opening, and I thought it might be time to write a little reflection on how the pub has handled the changing circumstances post-lock-down.

Our customers will have noticed the many differences in how we serve at the Harriers, but the changes go far deeper than what you see.

The most notable thing for me is how much our busy hours have changed. It used to be a certain bet that Sunday would be the busiest day of the week, but now it is almost impossible to predict just how busy we’ll be on a day-to-day basis.

For example, some Tuesdays have been busier than a peak summertime Sunday would have been last year! As a result, it is difficult to manage the rota to ensure we have enough staff on duty from our small (but dedicated) team.

I would like to say “thank you” to everyone who has visited us in the last month for how understanding you have been with my staff. It really does make a difference and it keeps their heads held high on otherwise challenging shifts.

It has also been great to see how many of you have come down and supported us in an ever-changing world. When I arrived last autumn, I seldom saw the front ‘beach’ as busy as it is now, with tables full of people laughing and enjoying each other’s company…at a safe distance of course.

In terms of an advert for the business I’m proud to be running, I could not ask for more.

We are very fortunate to have the outdoor space and seating that we do, and I’m hopeful that the weather remains favourable for as much of summer as possible!

How things will change when winter arrives – bringing colder and wetter weather – will be next in a long line of challenges since the Covid pandemic arrived. But that is something we must plan for when the time draws nearer. At the moment I have enough to concern me, trying to keep enough barrels of Shere Drop in our cellar and bottles of rose wine in our fridges!

For me, lock-down was difficult at times with only the ever-patient Nick Ash, the sous chef, to keep me company for long stretches.  Together with Jake the dog, of course.

So, I just wanted to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have checked in on me and the pub, not just as customers but as friends, and I look forward to seeing you in the days and weeks to come.

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