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Scottish restaurant and bar reveals plans to reopen despite restrictions still being in place

A Scottish restaurant has announced plans to reopen despite lockdown restrictions still being in place.

Published: May 29, 2020
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Pavana restaurant in Shotts has announced plans to reopen to the public, despite lockdown restrictions being in place.

The plan by the restaurant, which only opened late last year, to reopen was announced on the Pavana Facebook page by owner Brian Neill who said: "Here is an update for our plans going forward:

"We are moving forward with our multi use function suite. The plan is to use the facility mist days as it was before. With kids amusement & party's a priority.

"There will also be the opportunity to hold adult functions, stag parties, hen nights, music nights, small weddings, anniversaries & funerals. Monthly entertainment acts will also be available.

"Sound tests have been done & acoustic protection to ceilings and walls are fine. The rear suite will hold circa 60 people, with fixed seating around the perimeter.

"There is also a stage and a large floor area in the centre with a drinks counter. Pavana holds an additional 50 so in total, 110."

Reopening plans

With regards to reopening the restaurant, Mr Neill says that the decision was made due to lack of government grants. He posted: "With all that in mind I'm pushing the boat out here & please bear with me.

"Local & National Government has not helped me at all. Whilst almost all businesses have received grants I have received nothing at all.

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"So I am going against Government rules and opening Pavana for food & drinks. We will obey social distancing rules - although I don't agree with them.

"In my view it's a way to further destroy society and remove freedom. We will be open as soon as possible, within the next couple of weeks.

"This will cause a problem with the official rules but sometimes authority needs to be questioned and I am preparing for the consequences.

"Pavana will be the first pub in Scotland to open and we all need to have some courage to get back to normality or our town will die.

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"Everyone is welcome, but remember we will need to be mindful and respect others whose opinions may differ.

"Also, we have neighbours and would ask that entering & leaving the premises please keep the noise to a minimum."

Brian then went on to add that people should spread the word and let him know whether they agreed or disagreed with his decision.

Pavana has been offering a food and drink collection and delivery service amid the lockdown.

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Owner's response

Mr Neill was contacted for comment and explained his reasons for looking into reopening as an option.

He explained the situation, saying: "We finally opened in December and then this has happened. A lot of other businesses have been given grants but I haven't got a penny.

"I've applied umpteen times but I've been knocked back. I've tried my best to get something back from the council, some kind of feedback and they're not interested. The government isn't interested.

"There's restaurant and bar, kids' play centre and six flats above. Rates came out for the flats but for whatever reason the rateable value for the commercial premises wasn't available before the 14 March, which was the excuse not to pay me one penny - because the rateable value wasn't in place at the time.

Mr Neill has, himself, taken apart the kids' play area to create a large function space, which he plans to make available for gatherings as he's "trying his best to think that things might get better and back to normality" although he doesn't think they will.

There's no set date for reopening Pavana, Mr Neill was set on doing so but concedes that the feedback "hasn't been brilliant."

He adds: "I am weighing everything up. I've had an email in from the police and licencing telling me that I need to abide by the guidelines and I've told them that they are just that, guidelines.

"I've not capitulated in any way and I am prepared to go to court over this, if I have to because I feel as if I am in the right. I am prepared to fight tooth and nail.

"I am not a bad person, I am trying to make a point and let people see that there may be more going on (with coronavirus) than meets the eye. That's  my real reason for this, it's not for the fact of my losing my business - no matter what happens now I'll be lucky if it breaks even.

"My plan when I opened the restaurant was never to make money and it's not about the money now.

"My concern isn't opening because I want to make a profit, I am never going to make a profit now, but what I need to people to do is at least have an open mind and look into what is actually happening in the world.

"I think more people are going to suffer from lockdown than they ever will from coronavirus."

If he does go ahead with reopening Pavana, there will be social distancing in place, even though Mr Neill doesn't necessarily agree with this.

Explaining, he says; "I'm not doing to break the social distancing rules and regulations, although I see them being broken time and time again.

"I don't necessarily agree with social distancing, but I'll stick by the rules, keep tables to metres apart and do my best to comply with whatever regulations are in place."

Mr Neill opened the restaurant, Pavana and kids' play area, Play Post, in the former Post Office building, in a bid to bring something new to Shotts - a town he grew up in and remembers as being thriving but has changed beyond his recognition.

He says: " I opened as I was to try and do something for the community that I remember when I was young, but (given what's happened) it was a mistake."

Mr Neill has also updated Facebook with more information on his reasoning.

When can restaurants reopen?

Scotland moved into Phase One of its four-phase plan to exit lockdown on Friday 29 May.

The phase one guidelines allow for gradual reopening of drive-through food outlets first, along with garden centres, and staff will be able to return to schools.

Outdoor workplaces will also resume and plans are in place for the safe reopening of the housing market.

However, it will still be a while before pubs and restaurants are permitted to reopen, with the plan for slowing restarting the hospitality sector not addressed until phase two.

Phase two will begin once the transmission rate, known as the R number, is "consistently" below one.

Online response

So far the Facebook post has over 180 comments, 59 shares and 90 reactions - a mixture of love, like and angry faces.

Many people have responded to give their opinion, with most disagreeing with the decision though some were supportive, saying they missed pints.

One Facebook user commented: " Can you guarantee people won’t get covid-19 when visiting? I thought not so why are you willing to put peoples life’s at risk? Stay shut and abide by the guidelines like everyone else."

Another added: "Good luck with your opening against the rules, from a look at the comments here you won't have much business and I for one won't be shy in reporting this utterly selfish behaviour! It's peoples LIVES and my community your putting at risk to line your own pockets absolutely disgusting."

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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