Blog. It's nearly time for National Hospitality Day

September 3, 2021 | Author: Mark Lewis

I want to tell you about National Hospitality Day and why we’ve launched it. 

On 18 September, we’re asking people across the nation to grab their keys, cards and cash, venture out the front door, head to a nearby hospitality venue and spend a bit of money. 

Why? To say “welcome back, we’ve missed you”. To celebrate our brilliant, resilient pubs, restaurants and hotels. And to help the places we love to survive. 

Successive lockdowns have taught us how much richer our lives are for having hospitality venues in them – and how much we’ve taken them for granted. 

I love the occasional pint on the way home from work. I get it from my Dad. He’d stop off at the Grenadier in Belgravia on his way out of town from his office on The Strand; or sometimes he’d hang on until he got home, then swing by the Green Dragon at the bottom of Maidenhead High Street. 

The cheeky pint after work is a thing of beauty. It demarcates down time from work time. And it offers a chance to decompress and take stock, chat with pals, maybe to catch up on news and social media, in a convivial atmosphere. 

Have I survived without these little detours for the past 18 months? Of course. Life didn’t end when all my favourite venues closed.

But it was a lot less enjoyable. 

We’ve all got our favourite haunts, the places we ached to return to, while we were stuck at home. 

Places I missed? Dem Turkish Restaurant in Crystal Palace ... pizzas at 400 Rabbits, also in Crystal Palace ... a pint of Luna at the Bull & Finch opposite Gipsy Hill Station ... a baguette and a coffee from Benugo in Clerkenwell ... Angela Hartnett’s place on Bermondsey Street ... the Three Compasses beside Farringdon station ... 2 Fore Street in Mousehole ... cardamom buns from a Fabrique bakery ... 

I could go on. 

Most of these places have reopened. But, while Covid still lives among us, none of them can predict what the future holds – and that’s what makes National Hospitality Day so important.

The idea for National Hospitality Day was born out of a Hospitality Action fundraiser we’ve been running for several years, called Social Sunday. This idea in turn came from our principle patron, Jason ‘Social’ Atherton: why not get operators up and down the land to put on a bit of a show, attract a bit of footfall and raise some funds for a good cause, one summer Sunday?

National Hospitality Day is Social Sunday on steroids.

It quickly became clear that National Hospitality Day had to be an industry-wide initiative. That’s why we’ve partnered with fellow trade charities Springboard, the Drinks Trust and the Licensed Trade Charity, as well as UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association, the Institute of Hospitality and a host of other industry organisations.

Like the Clap for Carers movement, we want the Great British public to show its appreciation for the pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels they love.

Much of the population is out and about again, enjoying hospitality, leisure and the arts. But there are still many people whose Covid nervousness means they’re still reluctant to venture into public spaces. We hope National Hospitality Day will give these people that little nudge they need, that reason to pop a mask in their back pocket and head for their local pub or restaurant. 

National Hospitality Day is our version of clapping the NHS and frontline workers. And let’s face it: going out for a drink or a bite is much more fun than rattling saucepans on the front doorstep ... 

The ask for operators (there’s always an ask when charities are involved), is that they lay on some form of fundraising. This could be as substantial as selling tickets for a guest chef night, or as straightforward as blu-tacking NHD posters up, so customers can donate via our QR code.

After a year and a half of dormancy, during which many of them focussed on feeding frontline workers, families in financial difficulty and the homeless, hospitality businesses are back. Now, they need the country’s support if they are to survive.

It’s a classic case of “use it or lose it”. It’s time for the nation to vote with its feet.