It's time to get out there and support local business, whatever the weather

We couldn’t have wished for a better start to the end of lockdown this week, as revellers from across Liverpool grabbed their sunglasses and turned out at bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants to celebrate the reopening of outdoors hospitality. Okay, it wasn’t exactly the Costa del Mersey, but while parts of Manchester and London had a splattering of snow, we at least had the sunshine here, if not the temperatures to match. 

The Boujee garden in the middle of Chavasse Park is certainly eye-catching

Outdoor drinking and dining is back open and this time we don’t need to worry if a scotch egg counts as a substantial meal. Bold Street, Concert Square and Castle Street were all busy from the off, while Williamson Square could have doubled up for Benidorm on Monday, as punters in winter jackets scrambled to make use of every square inch of outside space, proving that if you build it, they will come.

14042021 Williamson Square Liverpool Pubs
A sea of bald heads in Williamson Square
14042021 Castle Street Liverpool Bars Restaurants
Castle Street has benefited from the Without Walls scheme

“Ask if they’ve got a table in the sun” seemed to be the buzz phrase of the day, with many bars suddenly finding themselves top of the wish list thanks to a south-facing beer garden, yard, pavement or gutter. 

Never has location been so important to the survival of a business, but those that will sink or swim in the coming months looks largely down to luck of the draw. Those basking in sunshine included The Bombed Out Church, The Bridewell, Ma Boyles and The Baltic Fleet, all gifted with their own little sun traps. Others made the best of a bijou lot, dressing up their yardens with heaters, blankets and the promise of a quieter dining experience.

14042021 St Lukes Bombed Out Church Garden Bar
The Garden Bar is back at St Lukes, The Bombed Out Church
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Enjoying a pint at Ma Boyle's in Tower Gardens

At times, it all felt a bit “David and Goliath”. The Bierkeller in Liverpool ONE must have felt pretty smug as their terrace basked in glorious midday sunshine while looking down on The Hilton’s PIMA bar in full shade, where we spotted one solitary bloke enjoying a pint. Good for him. 

So what’s new, Liverpool? Well, Chavasse Park has gone from Green Flag to “Think Pink” and a big chunk of open space fenced off for Boujee Restaurant and Bar’s outside terrace. Owned by Real Housewives of Cheshire star Lystra Adams, Boujee took over the Chaophraya site in November 2020 with a mission to become the city’s “most Instagrammable” venue. The garden in the middle of the park is certainly eye-catching, with pink picket fences, pink deckchairs, a herd of pink plastic flamingos and a giant pink lipstick. We imagine the drinks are all pink too.

14042021 Boujee Liverpool Chavasse Park
Boujee is on a mission to become Liverpool's "most Instagrammable" venue

Across town at Old Haymarket, independent coffee shop owner Sarah Lovelock was excited to be back, even with her al fresco area looking out onto the council’s new city bus hub.

“It’s been really good to be back here,” said the founder of Lovelocks Coffee Shop. “I've been absolutely buzzing and it's been so nice seeing everyone and talking to people. Everyone's happy and it’s a really nice atmosphere.

“But I hate the buses. Especially when I'm relying so much on outdoor seating and buses are there chugging away, 20 yards from the table.”

Sarah received funding from the Without Walls initiative to improve the outdoor area at Lovelocks, but along with other businesses in the area - including Carlisi, So Coco Rouge and The Dead Crafty Beer Company - has been left frustrated by noise and disruptions from the bus hub. It’s part of a city wide scheme to try and reduce congestion and air pollution by providing a layover parking spot for buses running ahead of schedule. But let’s call a spade a spade here. It’s a bus park, not a bus hub.

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Lovelocks Coffee Shop has found itself next door to the controversial new bus hub

“We’ve been fighting it for three years now,” Sarah said. “Our local councillors have been going against it and they've been listening to businesses and responding, but the people who do the bus hub still want to put four spaces on the side of the street and they're still fighting to get them, which basically means there will be a bus parked right in front of the coffee shop, which would be awful.”

In other news, hairdressers, charity shops and other "non-essential" retail also reopened this week with large queues outside Primark, Debenhams and Zara. It was also good to see a new opening on Tarleton Street, as Steph Johnson has brought her Scouse Bird brand to Liverpool city centre.

14042021 Scouse Bird Shop Steph Johnson
Steph Johnson has brought her Scouse Bird brand to the high street

Is there much difference between somebody standing inside a pub with a pint and a group of shoppers in a department store? Government experts seem to think so and for the time being, they’ve decided that it’s too early to let hospitality open indoors. 

If you’re out this week in a beer garden or terrace then spare a thought for the other 60 percent of pubs that haven’t been given the green light to reopen yet. Why not stick a tenner in your pocket and save it for a rainy day? Because that’s when we’ll need them the most.

14042021 The Empire Pub Liverpool
Many pubs and bars in Liverpool remain closed, including The Empire on Hanover Street

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