Owners of Deeva Farsley, The Cat's Pyjamas and Flamingos Leeds prepare to welcome customers back inside on May 17

Owners of Leeds cafes and restaurants have spoken of their hopes and fears ahead of being able to serve customers inside from Monday.
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James Greenhalgh owner of Flamingos Coffee House in the Central Arcade off Briggate, said he was filled with a mixture of relief and anxiousness about reopening.

His cafe has not been open for eat-in food for eight months.

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Back in April, Flamingos tweeted that they'd had their "worst ever week" as they were taking only 30 per cent of what they would have done in a pre-Covid week.

Zulfi Hussain and James Greenhalgh.Zulfi Hussain and James Greenhalgh.
Zulfi Hussain and James Greenhalgh.

The cafe, a late night LGBT+ friendly venue, does not have outdoor seating, but is now ready to welcome customers back inside on Monday.

James, who opened Flamingos in late 2018, said: "It almost feels like we're having restart the business again from scratch because some of the staff have never worked in the shop for eat-in and there's lots to learn.

"So, anxiety, stress, relief, you name it, we've felt it."

James also said he was worried about enforcing government safety regulations after bad experiences last time around.

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"There was a small but significant minority that were very aggressive," he said.

"Last time around we had staff members that were physically threatened for simply enforcing the rule that the government asked us to do - so that's making me really nervous."

James said he had been grateful for government over lockdown, but with support now withdrawn, pressure is mounting

He added: "People aren't spending their money as much as they used to because they're worried about their jobs.

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"People want to support local but it's a lot tougher now because people have pockets that are feeling the pinch."

Despite the concerns, James said customers who do venture out will have plenty to look forward to.

"You will be able to expect fantastic food and upgraded menu and fantastic service," he said.

"But bear with us, because we're all trying to get through these new rules and we're just doing what we've been asked to do by the government, but we're going to try our best.

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"Be patient, be nice to one another, and come and enjoy a coffee."

Zulfi Hussain, owner of Deeva in Farsley and The Cat's Pyjamas in Headingley - neither of which have sufficient outdoor space, said his restaurants were undergoing deep cleaning ahead of the big day.

He has invested in a new upstairs area at Deeva.

He added: "We've gone the extra mile and we've actually had a quite significant makeover of our upstairs area, which will be open for the first time on the 17th.

"Our customers are really looking forward to the use of that space. The year has been very tough but we've invested to improve what we already have.

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"We've got some new recipes and new specials coming along, so there's a lot of work being done in the background to welcome customers back."

Zulfi said bookings were already being made at both restaurants, but added a plea to customers.

He added: "This is not just for us, but all small businesses - if people have booked and plans do change, please notify the place they have booked so they can reallocate the sets.

"Because we're restricted in numbers as it is, no shows can have a significant impact."

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