When the UK first went into lockdown back in March 2020, no one could have foreseen what was to come. Almost a year on and at a glance it appears that we are in a similar situation, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel as more than 15 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the Coronavirus vaccine.
As things slowly but surely progress, we have had to learn to adapt as a nation and nowhere is that more obvious than when looking at our hospitality and leisure sectors.
In the North East, hospitality and leisure have pivoted successfully during the pandemic by adapting their businesses. Although this will have taken a great deal of resilience and hard work, each company has continued to adapt to survive. Venues like The Blackbird Ponteland, Kennedy and Rhind, Sushi Me Rollin’ and Dabbawal all offer lockdown friendly services and have found a way to keep the local community going.
The Blackbird Ponteland offer a variety of takeaway services. They produce exquisite quality takeaway meals that can be ordered online or over the phone, with amazing Sunday lunches also being an immensely popular option. ‘Café Blackbird’ is also open daily for takeaway hot drinks including a variety of coffees, teas, and hot chocolate. Owner of The Blackbird, Stuart Young said, “Café Blackbird has been massively successful for retaining customer engagement, even though selling coffee and baked goods is not a replacement for our normal business”. Stuart went on to discuss The Blackbird’s interest in Jesmond based bakery, Kennedy and Rhind, and noted that they have seen a great deal of cross customer exchange as a result of the teams working together and collaborating on occasions boxes, the next being Mother’s Day. Kennedy and Rhind have significantly developed their brand during the pandemic and now also hold a regular Saturday pop-up shop in the Tipi at The Blackbird Ponteland. They are very well received and certainly improved countless people’s lockdown routine!
Sushi Me Rollin’ are usually based inside Stack Newcastle. However, recently they have adapted and created a takeaway service that changes location daily. Sushi Me Rollin’ keep their customers up to date of the changing location via their Instagram Stories, where they post when and where they will be at a specific location.
Orders can be placed online and are distributed to the chosen area Sushi Me Rollin’ is delivering to that day. They offer a wide selection of dishes and options that cater for all, while continuing to ‘make fine dining fun’ in the home!
Dabbawal Indian street food, based in High Bridge and Jesmond, have recently begun offering a takeaway service that is available for collection or delivery. Dabbawal at High Bridge is open every day for beautiful takeaway meals, and during February they offered a Valentines feast box to spread a bit of love around the region. Their food is superb and a brilliant way to treat yourselves during lockdown.
Like hospitality, leisure is also a sector that has been decimated by Covid-19. Northern Stage has plans to change that though, with their new campaign, THIS IS US. Beginning with Can We Come In? in January, audiences will begin a journey from their homes, into the city for Out on the Toon, which is to begin in March. Then hopefully audiences will be back in the theatre for Housewarming from April. Artistic Director, Natalie Ibu explains, “This Is Us is about radical diversity of stories, characters, lives, forms, locations and times to remind us who we are but also reminding audiences about what we do best – facilitating stories that reach beyond the ordinary”. Northern Stage really are making a fantastic effort to keep their audience entertained, even with the theatre doors currently being closed.