"It's the same as it always was": Staff relief as cafe in Debenhams reopens and they are offered their jobs back
The staff at Debenhams cafes in Sheffield have spoken of their relief when they learned they would get their jobs back after they were made redundant during lockdown.
At the end of May cafe staff at Debenhams stores across the country were told they were being made redundant and would lose their furlough pay as the beleagured department store sought to cut costs as it struggled to survive the impact of the pandemic.
However, following a buyout from an outside company which now operates the cafes as a concession, the staff were all contacted and offered their jobs back.
Now, the cafe inside Debenhams stores in Sheffield town centre and Meadowhall are both open again, with the same staff, menu and design as they had before they closed.
Dan Arnell, restaurant manager at Debenhams on The Moor, said: “It is great to be back, we are all really pleased.
“The hospitality sector was really hard-hit by coronavirus and we had all struggled to find anything else after we were told we would be redundant.
"I applied for 40 or 50 jobs in the two months since we shut and heard very little back. So to be called back to my old job and get to return is great.”
Although it is now run as a concession, everything else about the old Debenhams cafe is still the same.
Dan is back in charge with his old team all back in place too, and the menus are as they were.
The same arrangement has been made for the cafe in Meadowhall, however not every Debenhams in the country is having its cafe taken over by the same firm.
"We opened up two weeks ago and it has been going well,” said Dan. "We are seeing some of the old regulars again which is really nice.
“It is a bit quieter than usual because of the virus, and the social distancing measures meaning we have fewer tables. On the plus side though it means we get to spend more time with each customer.
"Hopefully over time things will get back to normal and we can be a bit busier again.”