Turning from a restaurant to take away in a matter of days is a challenge that many St Helens Borough businesses have had to tackle.
But the process has been helped by St Helens Council’s Licensing team who have supported a wide range of businesses to diversify their offering and continue to trade despite the lockdown.
Among those supported is Spanish spot La Casa Vieja, on Bickerstaffe Street in St Helens Town Centre, who have converted their licence so that they can now offer takeaway and delivery services including alcohol so that diners can enjoy a classic sangria along with their paella or tapas.
Siobhan Fairclough, director of La Casa Vieja said: “I can’t thank the licensing team enough, they have helped me so much and supported me through the whole process as these are really tough times for everyone.
“Our customers have been amazing, after 26 years as a restaurant we have now turned into a takeaway and it’s been a massive learning curve. We have an amazing team and with the help of the council not just with the grant but through the licensing it’s been quite humbling to know that we’re not on our own through this. St Helens as a town has showed us so much support. It’s brought out the best in our community and shows that my dad’s two decades working so hard in this town six/seven days a week has been recognised by so many”
Another venue supported to change its operations is Sabroso Tex-Mex restaurant, on George Street in St Helens Town Centre. Although already used to offering delivery alongside restaurant food the restaurant has altered it’s service to provide more.
Owners Paul and Sharon Bridge said: “St Helens Council has been instrumental in guiding and providing a temporary off-sales alcohol licence so that we can reach as many customers as possible during the current climate. There has been a significant increase in new customers ordering from us using our Sabroso app, JustEat and calling for deliveries so it has been excellent to offer them some of our customer favourite bottled hose wines and beers.”
The licensing team have also supported licensed shops to move into the delivery market.
The WineStore, on Walmesley Road, Eccleston, and The Hop House, at Dane Court, Rainhill have both moved to the option to help customers reduce the need to go out and stay safe at home.
And The Sticky Wicket at Ruskin Sports Village has also been helped to set up a new takeaway service with drinks available too.
Stephen Palfrey, Operations Director, said: “Five weeks ago our revenue tap was turned off and we found that we weren’t eligible for the Small Business Grant. Wondering what our options were, we got in touch with the council’s licensing department whose solid advice gave us the confidence to start a take-away and delivery food service. This was completely outside of anything we’ve done before. Sticky Wicket is known for fresh, quality food and we didn’t know if this would translate to a delivery service but our first weekend was a sell out and the feedback has been amazing; we are grateful to the council’s team for guiding us.”
Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said: “Our licensing team have been providing vital support for some of the businesses most heavily affected by the lockdown and will continue to need our support as we adjust to social distancing measures that will remain in place in future. Many of those who the team have supported have praised their hard work and quick responses to help them turn around their operations to new ways of working.
“I want to personally thank the team for their hard work during a really difficult time, they have gone above and beyond to take a pro-active approach to business continuity and will be a key part in supporting licenced premises during the eventual recovery phase.
“Through the St Helens is Open portal you can find out what businesses can provide and we should all be doing our bit to make sure they have our custom. Businesses thinking about diversifying can also get all the help they need on the dedicated page about coronavirus licensing support.”