Over the course of the last 6 months, we have been trying to figure out how to open up our doors again in a way that we felt comfortable doing so.

As always for us at the Stoneworks, just because we can do something doesn’t mean we will (or should). This is the reason it has taken us so long to reopen our doors. We have a commitment to you and to our staff to do everything in our power to keep you safe whilst you are in our bar.

Information has been coming quickly and changing even quicker with regards to Covid and ways for us to best reduce transmission while doing our best to enjoy life. Rules have been put into place and removed and then put back into place while more rules have been added. If reading that sentence was confusing, imagine trying to navigate the laws while attempting to open a public space with some moral confidence.

Every time we thought we might open, a new set of laws or guidelines were announced that (often) changed something integral to our reopening plan. Even now, as we prepare to reopen, we are not sure that the rug will not be taken out from under our feet, but unless we are told we are not allowed to open, we are satisfied that we will be going over and above providing an environment that is as safe as possible.

"We are satisfied that we will be going over and above providing an environment that is as safe as possible."

The decision we have made is to open the bar with timed sessions. The Stoneworks Sessions will allow us to ensure a full and deep clean in between every session.

We will also be implementing the following things in order to provide a safe environment. Some of it is government mandated while some of it is because we believe it is important.

  • Online booking system with track and trace abilities built in
  • Wipe clean call buttons on each table enabling the server to be called over easily while minimising touching points
  • Socially distanced seating areas adhering to the government mandated distance
  • Online menu
  • Strict toilet facility protocol reducing queues
  • Touch free hand sanitiser stations
  • Full & deep clean of bar in between each service session
  • HOCl fogging between every session to kill any airborne or surface virus
  • Use of face protection throughout service
  • Use of face masks by customers at all times other than when seated
  • Card Only

We are aware that there is nothing that we can do to guarantee safety. Unfortunately Covid isn’t always apparent and can be present without anyone knowing. We are doing our best to create an atmosphere that is appealing while trying to make it safe as well.

"The Stoneworks Sessions will allow us to ensure a full and deep clean in between every session."

The Stoneworks Sessions

It should go without saying cleanliness for any business within the hospitality industry should be paramount. When we sat down and started applying The Stoneworks attention to detail to a Covid secure cleaning regime we realised that the safest way to open was to ensure we could have dedicated periods throughout the day where we could deep clean the bar.

For us, it isn’t enough to simply wipe down a table once it’s been used and let the next group sit there. We came up with the idea of running timed sessions throughout the day. This means that in between each session, we can use the time to ensure the entire bar is deep cleaned ready for the next sessions arrivals. Steve started to geek out about tech and before I knew it, I was standing in the bar and had a HOCl fogging machine filling the air. I’m not going to go into the science here (mainly because I don’t want to take the opportunity away from Steve), but this machine is what they use in hospitals to clean rooms in between occupants. It has a 90 second contact kill time and basically means that after its use, the next people to walk in are walking into a clean and sterilised environment. When you add this to our normal cleaning regime that will continue to happen, we’re pretty confident that the space will be as safe as we can possibly make it.

This is all new to us and things will need to be tweaked. This means the timings of these sessions are subject to change as we grow within this period. Initially we will be operating with longer cleaning times in between sessions so that we can get the process right, we don’t want to rush any of this. As we settle into it we can start to look to expand the sessions and hopefully make it so more people can come and enjoy some time with us over the day.

When you book you will be asked to pick a session you wish to attend, each session will have a specified arrival time in which we require all attendees to arrive. Unfortunately the number of seats is extremely limited so booking early will be encouraged to avoid disappointment (the booking cut off period for each session current will be will be 24 hours before the arrival time of the session).
The session will then run for the allotted time (a min of 2 hours). You can book into as many sessions as you desire, but in between every session you will be asked to leave the bar so it can be thoroughly cleaned and then reopened.

We will be rotating our stock offering as normal so we aim to keep you excited with different beers & cocktails.

"The number of seats is extremely limited so booking early will be encouraged to avoid disappointment."

Bookings & Buy-ins

We realised way back in June/July with the distancing rules set in place, that our building is not at all set up to simply open the doors and expect people to be socially distant. Without the space to put in a one way system the only other viable option was some form of seated service provision. When we started to look into the practicality of this it became apparent that with a 60% cut in capacity and the impact of higher staffing requirements, financial viability became a big question. To make the stress of this just that bit more the industry is currently being hammered by the impacted cost of no shows. Many places are putting in place non refundable deposits for any and all bookings, but in a time where plans are being changed day to day, we didn’t think it fair to expect the entire burden to be put on our customers.

Our approach now is pretty simple, every session will have a defined buy in per person. On your first visit, you will be given one of our Stoneworks Black Cards that will have the full buy in value already credited to it. You can use this card throughout the session (totally contactless) to spend your credit. If you run out of credit during your session, you can go ahead and pay by card as you normally would (cash will not be accepted). The next time you book with us you just have to let us know the customer numbers of you and your group (printed on your card) and bish, bash, bosh we top it up. Then all you have to do is show up and use it again! It’s worth noting that we will use your email address provided to assign your cards, so let’s make sure they’re correct.

We are going to ask that if for any reason you or any members of your party have booked and cannot show up, if you could let us know as soon as possible. You doing this would be really helpful in enabling us make it through this period.

We will be honouring the value of these cards up until the end of the year (01/01/2021). We have no plans to be going anywhere any time soon, so you can feel safe in the knowledge that that credit will be there when you come to use it! Should we be in a situation where we are legally unable to open again for a period of time, the downtime will be added to the period we honour the gift cards for.

Although this may seem to be a bit much, we are not trying to have anyone over with this approach. All we are trying to do is ensure that The Stoneworks can continue to survive during a period where 90% of the industry is losing money. Our aim for this is to make sure the business covers its overheads and continues to be able to afford to keep our amazing bartenders in place so that once all of this is said and done, you can all be 4 deep at the bar again having a blast. By taking this approach to opening it means we can guarantee that our overheads are covered in a way that does not feel exploitative.

"If you run out of credit during your session, you can go ahead and pay by card as you normally would (cash will not be accepted)."

Outdoor Use

There will be no drinks permitted outside. We looked extensively into the possibility of providing this, but due to local government requirements, we have come to the conclusion that the risk of opening up to a larger outdoor area does not really provide us with an environment that we can control and keep safe. People are welcome to go outside to smoke (socially distanced of course), but we will be kindly asking you to keep all drinks at your table.

And there we go. We have spent 4 years creating a bar that has been adopted by an outstanding community of people, and we feel responsible for you lot. Both Steve and I have always operated The Stoneworks with the aim of doing the very best by everyone invested in it and we’re never going to compromise on this. This arrangement is not really what we want to do as bar owners, but it’s very much what we feel like we need to do to ensure that we continue to live up to the high expectations we (all) have for the bar. We are going to make mistakes through this period. It is going to feel a little clunky sometimes as we try to find our feet. One thing is for sure, we will continue to work hard to achieve these high standards and to be the best we can possibly be.

See you all hopefully very soon