The TapHouse Bar has opened on Alma Street in Kelham Island, at the spot where the Noosa cafe used to be.
Run by Deborah Booth with support from her son, Ryan, the bar will serve locally-brewed ales, an array of gins and a menu of classic pub meals – but for now the place is offering takeaway breakfasts, sandwiches and burgers, with social distancing in place for collections.
Deborah used to own Bar Ruelle, in Barnsley town centre, which continues under new management. She decided to set up a venture in Kelham because of the neighbourhood’s vibrancy and strong reputation as a haven for real ale enthusiasts.
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“It's a good place to be in,” said Ryan. “It's an up-and-coming area and there’s a lot of ale trails.”
Before the Covid-19 crisis hit, the plan was for The TapHouse to be fully open by now.
“We’d just taken it over and then a couple of days later they closed everything down,” Ryan said. “You just have to take it, don't you?”
The lockdown inevitably posed a financial challenge, but the unexpected quiet period provided the opportunity to give the bar’s interior a bigger revamp. Sheffield-based artist Chris Ashmore has painted a large mural depicting scenes from old industrial Kelham, when the district was populated by metalworking factories and solo ‘little mesters’ plying their trade.
“We did quite a bit of research,” Ryan said. “We wanted it to be in keeping with the history of the area.”
The TapHouse’s list of cask ales will include beers from the Kelham Island, Abbeydale, Acorn and Bradfield breweries, alongside premium lagers and more than 40 gins. Deborah will be cooking the food from scratch.
“We just wanted to get a feel for it,” said Ryan of this week’s ‘soft opening’. “Rather than waiting for the stampede when the pubs open we thought we’d test everything out. We’ve been quite surprised by the amount of people coming in and the interest that’s been generated. As we evolve during the lockdown the menu will start building up.”
Measures needed to ensure pubs and bars can reopen safely no sooner than July 4 are still being discussed nationally. Trade group UKHospitality has suggested that customers could be stopped from drinking at the bar and ‘discouraged’ from returning empty glasses.
Ryan said it was ‘very hard to say’ whether social distancing will be feasible in the industry.
“It will to start off with, but it's going to have to be policed," he said.
“I think it’s going to be inundated after lockdown, everybody’s going to come out partying for a pint... it’ll definitely be good for the business.”