With restrictions easing across England on Monday, restaurants, cafés and bars were allowed to serve customers indoors.
Venues across Hastings and St Leonards without an outdoor area were able to welcome customers back for the first time since before Christmas.
The Courtyard Hastings, at the Source Park, also opened to customers on Monday and provides a sheltered space when the wind gets up along the seafront. The former White Rock Baths courtyard lay derelict for more than 60 years before Source Park opened in 2016. Now the rest of the area – phase two of the development – is being brought back to life.
And in the next few months there will be a range of new businesses opening in Hastings and St Leonards as the area prepares for what could be an extremely busy year for the hospitality sector. It will be a welcome return after the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic caused the local tourism sector in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, the sector supported more than 16,000 jobs across 1066 Country, and generated more than £700 million for the local economy, according to Kevin Boorman, manager of the 1066 Country Marketing tourism partnership.
John Bownas, manager of the Hastings Business Improvement District (BID), revealed what the people of Hastings and St Leonards can expect in the next few months: “The coming few months will be exciting in Hastings as we move into a summer season that’s bound to see an influx of domestic tourism. And it’s great to see how many hospitality and amusement businesses are getting ready to deal with this demand.
“The pier is going to a be a real draw on sunny days, and the recently opened Courtyard at the Source Park provides a bit more shelter if the wind gets up. We’re also looking forward to a new venue in the former Walkers Bar, as well as another across the road in what used to be Fluid.
“Down in the Old Town, Blackmarket VIP is transforming into a really spectacular looking space called Dr Jeckylls, and the new rollercoaster ride is already popular.
“Along in St Leonards Goat Ledge has expanded, we have the new Bank Hotel and Bistro across the road on the corner of Warrior Square, and in Norman Road the old HSBC is set to become an exciting indoor food court.
“This is just a small selection of what’s going on in town right now.
“There are still challenges, but we are talking to the council and other businesses about how we can invest in improvements to Hastings that will encourage more people to visit and keep coming back.”