More than three months has passed since The Solstice in Peterborough was forced to close its doors because of Covid-19 but now it’s back! ESP’s Man About Town, Pep Cipriano popped in for a behind the scenes look…
The venue has been a consistent firm favourite with revellers for 21 years and it’s stood up to numerous challenges to the day and night scene during this time.
The Solstice is part of the fabric of the city centre and its owners have always raised the bar in terms of what’s on offer.
It’s no surprise then, when I tell you instead of re-opening as it was previously and attempting to tread water through a choppy post-pandemic sea that most businesses are navigating through, The Solstice has invested nearly £100k in making it the best experience it’s ever been for us punters.
General Manager, Peter Bell told me – “Needless to say we’ve had a tough time since March with the demolition of the multi-storey car park across the way and the subsequent road closure because of it. Then of course Covid-19 hit but instead of burying our heads in the sand, we decided to come back stronger than ever.”
Peter and his team have been working around the clock since social distancing was eased to reveal on Saturday July4 a more modern, stylish and attractive venue that not only has changed aesthetically but culturally too.
Peter added – “Clearly, our priority has been to ensure our customers will be able to enjoy The Solstice in a safe and responsible way. Our capacity will be set by the one metre plus rule and the track and trace initiative will be in place as customers come to visit.
“We’ve introduced different level seating and it’s laid out in a more club-like style to help with flow and sensible distancing. It’s going to be all table service and there’s no seating at the bar. And outside we’ve created and open-air garden with more than one metre space between tables.”
I had a sneak preview and instantly noticed the new colour scheme and scattered seating. Saturday’s re-opening will also bring about a different music profile to the venue. This adheres to government guidelines that state venues should ensure people aren’t needing to raise their voices or lean in to hear one another, which carries the risk of droplets potentially carrying coronavirus being spread.
Investing money into a venue in the light of all these government-led changes to pubs and clubs is unavoidable, but The Solstice has seen it as an opportunity to lead the way in the long-standing battle with footfall in the area.
Peter continued – “It’s no secret that this end of town has seen a reduction in footfall for a long time. I’ve done my calculations and we’re approximately 70 per cent down in capacity compared to four years ago. There are numerous factors behind this and we all have to work hard to try and re-attract some of our old customers, but starting with making the venue as safe as possible in these challenging times is a positive step forward for us.”
As part of the guidelines issued The Solstice has altered its opening hours. The venue is now open from 12 noon until 11pm seven days a week. Best of all, you can still see all the big sports encounters as most championships have now returned back to competition.