Feb 27, 2021
3 mins read
OK, even if you are like me and only used to stop by pubs for a breakfast from time to time or for a quick coffee (it was hella cheap, okay!) or a stronger drink, I'm sure you are kind of itching to be able to have the CHOICE of going to a pub or a café. Or a restaurant. Or a bistro. Anything that gives you a choice of drink or food or both. Anything that has a chair and a table for you to sit on instead of waiting in a queue outside to grab your take-out.
Honestly, can you even remember what it's like to just pop in for a drink or a bite at a moment's notice, without having to consider queues, questionnaires, test and trace, venue capacities, and all that?! I remember being in Leeds during one of the lockdown periods, can't even remember which one now, and cafés were allowed to open on a reduced capacity. I really really wanted to grab a little coffee before a shoot (or a meeting? one of those), and I couldn't decide which one to go to.
I stopped by one but it had a queue and people entering were filling in the test and trace forms, and as much as I appreciate the effort businesses had to put in to make our hospitality experience safe and secure, I just kinda lost it.
I was throwing a bit of a tantrum, really. I didn't want to queue for ages to get a cup of coffee. I didn't want the hassle of filling in papers. I just felt like I had had enough and wanted to go back to the times of making snap decisions and going into any place I desire. See, it really was a silly tantrum.
I ended up spending too much time going back and forth and ended up having no time to grab a coffee before my appointment. (that'll teach me!)
Point is, it's been TOO long. Cafe and pub owners have been watching the industry suffer for months and months. Which brings me to my next thing I want to mention: pubs.
I was walking through our town centre, which is something I never do. I simply have no need to go there because we do all our shopping at Aldi (the middle aisle is a treasure trove really). I walked past across a young woman stepping backwards as she was taking a phone photo of a building which in turn made me look up at the building, too. A new pub! I'd never seen it or noticed it before.
This modern looking pub-bar just plonked in the middle of what essentially is a quiet and unattractive town centre. It just looked out of the place, but in a good way. The more cosmopolitan looking exterior and interior instantly made me think, "Hmm...I'd go there".
After a while, I ended up connecting with the owners on social media. We got chatting and at one point I remembered how I've always wanted to do a documentary project on a café. It instantly makes me visualise it as Bob Carlos Clarke vibes when he documented chef Marco Pierre White in his food book "White Heat".
I just love the idea of getting into behind-the-scenes. (I know I'm super curious about many things and maybe I just enjoy using my camera and being nosey?).
I met up with the owners, Rob and Rich. The former seems a bit bonkers but in a good way. You need a good humour and resilience to make it in the pub industry. I've worked behind the bar in a pub myself so I've had a fair share of experiences of what goes on behind the closed doors.
Currently, the pub is due to undergo a few cosmetic changes before it can open up when the restrictions are loosened, which means it's the perfect time for me to go and document some of it. It's been one hell of a journey for artists, the self employed and the small business owners and the fight is far from over, yet.
We have a long way to go before getting to a point that we can consider the new "normal", but I am excited that I will get to document some of that journey for this one random pub in a regular Yorkshire town.