Garden of Hammersmith pub all set to open on 12 April
Thatched House has been selling food and flowers & bedding plants. Picture, Darren Pepe
Even if it rains 12 April will be a bright day at the Thatched House in Hammersmith.
Pub manager James Fitzgerald said, “I am so excited, not only to get the business back rolling again but to be active.
“I think people are desperate to get out,” he added.
Like many pubs it is fully booked for Friday April 12 – the first day pubs can reopen under strict rules as lockdown starts to ease gradually.
There are spaces kept aside for regulars but the pub is pretty much fully booked for the first week.
And he said some of the staff who have been furloughed are “miserable” not being able to work at the Hammersmith pub and can’t wait to get back.
But there are also staff who have worked as porters at the Royal Hospital in Putney and at supermarkets to make extra money.
Meanwhile Mr Fitzgerard has also been busy during lockdown. He manages the Thatched House in Dalling Road and the sister pub the Duchess on Goldhawk Road for the Ram Pub Company.
And he has been working at Charing Cross Hospital as a bereavement counsellor during the pandemic.
“I used to do it years ago and when the hospitals were really busy one of my friends who works there said they are desperate for people.”
He added, “A lot of it was over the phone. One of the hardest things for people is not really knowing what’s happening or what’s happening next.
“For a lot of people it’s the first experience of death that they have had, so it’s been passing on information.”
He has also signed up to be an appropriate adult, attending police stations to safeguard young people and vulnerable adults who are suspected of an offence.
“You are looking after their welfare,” he said, and hopes to continue after lockdown.
He hopes to use some of the skills he’s developed in the day job too.
“There’s been a buzz around the pub, we’ve been painting the roof terrace, gardening and the chefs are doing a new menu.
“We’ve built the roof terrace at the back to accommodate more people.”
Thatched House pub. Picture, Darren Pepe
Overall they’ve spent £25,000 to £30,000 on upgrading the space outside and other improvements and have applied for grants to help out. Mr Fitzgerald said the reopening grant should help.
“We are looking forward to getting back and seeing our regulars. We have a lot of regulars, some of them have come and got take away food including our roast dinners,” he said.
Cooking up a storm has meant four staff were kept busy, preparing 200 take away roasts on Sundays.
And when the pub reopens on 12 April there will be extra seats on the footpath outside.
Mr Fitzgerald praised Hammersmith and Fulham council staff who helped them plan how to do this safely and apply for the licences to give people a bit more space.
Even if the weather is dreadful customers will be able enjoy their drinks under cover.
Mr Fitzgerald said, “The back garden has got a covered area and our brewery Youngs has been really good sending us parasols so even if it rains people will be under cover.
“We will also supply blankets. I think it’s going to be a really nice atmosphere.”
The pub has been selling groceries throughout lockdown.
And it also started selling bedding plants last year – which they plan to continue.
It brought new people to the pub and gave them the chance to get out and enjoy some distanced social contact.
Mr Fitzgerald said, “It has really opened up the community and the street. People have been popping in for flowers and asking if we can get fruit trees. It’s made it a little hub for the community.
“When we started people were asking us for advice about gardening and I was very busy googling. We are definitely going to carry on with the flowers,” he said.
Julia Gregory - Local Democracy Reporter
March 30, 2021