Sheffield fine dining hotspot Rafters finally reopens after a 'crazy' seven months of closure

The team behind the popular Rafters restaurant in Sheffield, which now also run a bar next door and a hotel in Derbyshire, have finally been able to fully open their businesses after a ‘crazy’ seven months of closure and uncertainty.

By Sam Ward
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 12:34 pm
Diners at the refurbished Rafters Restaurant on the soft launch.
Diners at the refurbished Rafters Restaurant on the soft launch.

Indoor hospitality opened in Sheffield last Monday as part of the latest phase in the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Rafters in Nether Green found a novel way to still offer their popular fine dining experience despite not being able to welcome guests for months on end.

“We wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t done that, that’s easy to say,” says Tom Lawson, co-owner and chef at Rafters, about ‘Rafters at Home’, which offered fine dining meal and cocktail packages to pick up from the restaurant and enjoy in lockdown.

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Co-owner and chef Tom tries out a dish at Rafters.

As well as being unable to reopen Rafters Restaurant, and its neighbouring Neighbourhood Bar on Oakbrook Road, Tom and the team had planned to open Rafters at Riverside House, part of 14-bedroom Riverside House Hotel and restaurant in Ashford-in-the-water, for the first time last year.

"It has been crazy,” Tom said. “Back in November we were all geared up to reopen, particularly the hotel because our opening day was the November 4, so we had a soft launch on the 1st.

"But then lockdown was on the 4th, so it got announced on that Sunday that we were going into another lockdown and it was supposed to be an official opening.

"We then geared up again for December as we were in Tier 1, but then all of a sudden we were in Tier 3.

"So although some businesses across the UK have been able to open, all of ours have been closed for seven months, which is massive.”

After being closed for seven months, the team can finally reopen all of their inside services – with Rafters at the Riverside opening, Rafters, and the bar all now open.

Rafters at the Riverside has been open for outdoor dining since April, but Tom says the last two weeks were “really tough”, with very few diners braving the adverse weather.

However, they have spent the time refurbishing the fully-indoor Rafters restaurant, and it is now fully-booked for the next week.