NEARLY half a year into the pandemic, and venues like the Townhouse are only beginning to be able to look ahead to the future with any sense of what they can expect.

Running the Barrow town centre bar and eatery during the most serious public health crisis in a century has been 'madness', according to Head Chef and General Manager of the Townhouse, Matt Williams.

"It's been a huge challenge - especially given the wider circumstances of the pandemic," he explained.

Mr Williams, 40, who has helped steer the ship through the choppy waters of the pandemic months at the Dalton Road pub, took over as general manager when the Townhouse reopened late last month.

The Dunes Hotel, the Townhouse's Hawthwaite sister venue, was able to set up a takeaway service during the lockdown period.

Although the Barrow pub was forced to wait until July 23 before it could reopen its doors to the public, it has reported a bustling trade upon returning.

"We couldn't have asked for a better reopening period," Mr Williams said.

"Customers have been great. Everyone's been really supportive - especially with all the new measures we've put in place and the minor delays some of those measures result in."

The Townhouse has reduced the number of tables in its restaurant area and encourages readers to make prior bookings in order to ensure they can be accommodated.

Mr Williams explained that for now the venue's toilets are only accessible downstairs in order to limit the potential spread of the virus.

After some uncertainty as to the future of jobs at the Townhouse, the Lucidity pub has been able to announce several new additions to its team.

"The staff have been brilliant throughout what's been a really difficult time," Mr Williams said.

"They've come into a totally different environment and have had to change the way they work. They've all risen to that challenge and done fantastically well.

"We've also added to our team, and have three promising new members - which means overall the team is at around 20 members now."

"The Government's Eat Out to Help Out scheme has been excellent for us and has helped a lot in terms of encouraging people in the town to venture out again and return to places like ours.

"We've had a lot of holidaymakers coming in over recent weeks, as well as our regulars and residents who maybe didn't think to drop by before."

In terms of future plans, Mr Williams says the Townhouse is looking forward to making some changes to its menus and developing space at the town centre premises once the uncertainty of the upcoming months has been weathered.

"We've got the mezzanine downstairs that we're working on. We're updating menus, updating the wine list - there's a lot in the pipeline.

"We've looked at starting up a new tapas menu - we'll begin trialling these things once we've got through next few months."