Heading towards a 'new normal'

Hi everyone, we hope you’re all keeping well and that you and those you care about are safe in these strange times.

We wanted to let you know about some changes we’ll be making over the coming weeks as we continue to bring BottleCraft ‘back to life’ in accordance with the revised rules from the government, and our own judgement on what is safe and practicable for us, our team and you, our customers.

New Opening Hours

We’re expanding our opening hours for draft off sales, collection web orders and bottle/can purchase at the bar from 1 June onwards as follows:

Monday Closed

Tuesday 1-5pm

Wednesday 1-5pm

Thursday Closed

Friday 1-5.30pm

Saturday 1-5.30pm

Sunday 1-3pm

We’re remaining closed on Monday and Thursday as these are our delivery days for web orders. As part of our expanded working we’re running what we call ‘bubble working’ through June. What that means is staff shifts shouldn’t overlap or coincide to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 within the team, and also from the team to you or vice versa. We think that’s a sensible additional precaution for us beyond what has been required by the government, at least for the time being. And in order for that to work we can’t have additional staff onsite on the two days we’re fulfilling orders from the web store.

As part of that change we’re delighted to welcome Nile back from furlough. As you can see from the picture he was VERY EXCITED when we got in touch to say he was coming back to work. We’re assuming that’s a 2/3 pint drinking horn he’s waving. He did say he had enjoyed playing with his new popcorn maker during lock down…but that won’t be making an appearance at the bar any time soon sadly.

New ways of working and buying

We’re confident that from 8 June at the latest we’ll be able to fully admit one customer at a time to the bar when you come to buy, rather than keeping you penned in at the door. We’re just waiting on the delivery and installation of ‘sneeze guards’ for the bar front before we go ahead with this. There’ll be some additional rules for you as customers once we roll that out, such as sanitising your hands when you enter the bar and only handling items you intend to buy – indeed we’ll have a ‘you touch it, you buy it rule’ in place once this change is rolled out. We think we can do it safely, or we wouldn’t be doing it at all, and we know (because you’re all ace) that you’ll all follow the rules once they’re in place. We’ll do another blog on this next week once we know the exact dates for the change, and we’ll make sure there are plenty of signs about to remind you once we get going.

The web store will remain in operation exactly as it is for those of you who don’t feel comfortable coming into Hanley. We fully understand and support that choice in these challenging times, and we’re making sure with our new working practices that you can continue to order beer from us for home delivery confident that it is absolutely safe to do so.

Back to the future…some thoughts on re-opening bars for on sales

We’re currently working on the assumption that bars will be able to reopen with appropriate social distancing measures from 4 July, although we fully expect that date to move back much as the date for non-essential retail did! However, we’ll work to be ready from that day in any event.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the impact the 2 metre rule has on the reopening of venues, and we are deeply concerned that for many premises the maintenance of that rule will mean they are unable to reopen in any way that will be profitable or viable for them. It’s hugely important that the government continues to support those pubs, bars and other venues that simply can’t comply with those rules, and that customers do what they can where possible to support them by continuing to buy off sales goods, merch and all the other things businesses have come up with to keep themselves afloat.

For us though, we are confident that a limited safe re-opening is feasible once it is allowed. It’s probably only going to be weekend afternoons/evenings initially, and it’s going to look very different from the way things were before, but we do think we can make it work, and we’re really pleased with all the support and creative ideas that both the City Centre BID and the City Council have been exploring in recent weeks. We think they’re doing some incredibly exciting and innovative work, and we’re hugely grateful for it.

So, expect to hear more from us in coming weeks about what that reopening may look like, including such novelties as table service and reservations, and the slightly less fun (but necessary for everyone’s safety) developments like maximum group sizes and earlier closing times.

Winding up

We’re excited and nervous as we start to move into the immediate future. We’re hugely grateful for all the support every one of you has shown us since we started up again a few weeks ago. We’re over the moon to be starting to bring our amazing team back from furlough and we’re very much looking forward to being able to welcome you back to Piccadilly for drinks in the (hopefully) near future.

But at the same time, we know for many of you there will be concerns about things ‘going back to normal’ even where that normal is, well, abnormal. That’s why we want to assure you that any changes we make will not affect the safe running of the web store home delivery service, and that we’ll continue to make full provision for people to order for home and collect draft and packaged beer safely and separately from any reopened bar service, whenever that happens.

All the best, and stay safe

Much love

Tom, Chris and Rich