05:00PM, Thursday 06 May 2021
Piero Mingolla and wife Emanuela outside their restaurant in Bridge Street, where new outdoor seating has been implemented
A Maidenhead restaurant has said that new temporary outdoor seating provided by the council has helped keep the business afloat and hopes an al fresco dining culture will continue in the town.
In a bid to increase trade at a time when hospitality can only open outdoors, parking bays have been suspended outside Emanuela’s and Strawberry Grove, both in Bridge Street.
Both businesses could not accommodate outdoor space and have had to rely on takeaways during the lockdowns. When virus restrictions eased on April 29 to allow the industry to reopen outdoors, this was not possible for the two firms.
However, with help from Steph James, service lead for economic growth at the Windsor and Maidenhead council, the bays immediately outside the properties have been turned into al fresco dining areas to allow the eateries to serve people in accordance with the law.
Strawberry Grove has taken the decision to reopen on May 17, when indoor dining is allowed, but Emanuela’s – formerly known as Bianco Nero - is starting to make use of the new outdoor seating, which is laid out for social distancing.
Owner Piero Mingolla said that on Friday last week, the atmosphere was ‘incredible’ and saw the restaurant take more trade than it had the whole week prior.
The space has been there since last Wednesday and Piero hopes it will be able to continue beyond June 21, when an agreement with the council is due to end.
There is also hope along Bridge Street that the road could potentially be pedestrianised and turned into the ‘restaurant hub of Berkshire’.
“It was like sitting in Italy,” Piero said of Friday’s turn-out. “The atmosphere felt incredible.
“We were that desperate because of the way things are going; we still do not know whether we have a future, but the outside dining has helped us on our path to recovery.
“It just goes to show that having this atmosphere will encourage more people to sit down and try the local restaurants we have in Maidenhead.
“If I get two days out of seven a week and it brings people in, I will take it, because we were struggling just with takeaways.”
Piero added that takeaways did not provide enough income to cover his rent and this put ‘a lot of pressure’ on his family.
He added: “A bit of life needs to be injected into the town. We have put our heart and soul into the business and it would be heartbreaking if we had to close.”
The restaurant owner is now hoping the weather will keep up and restrictions continue to ease to allow his Italian restarant to thrive.
“I think the hospitality trade will boom – people are really wanting to get out,” he said. “It is just a matter of doing what we can to let people know we are here.
“We are still here, and we will do what we can to get by.”
Police were called to the River Thames between Cookham and Bourne End yesterday at about 3pm, to reports that a teenage boy had entered the water but hadn’t been seen to leave.