As most of you are probably aware, The Orchard @ Fairfield Park has been closed since 21 March! Finally, the green light has been given to reopen, and we thought you might be interested in reading what has been going on behind the scenes.

Reconfiguring the restaurant has been the biggest challenge. Trying to socially distance diners, when the room is only 4.5 meters wide, has meant a significant reduction in tables. However, after shifting the furniture into approximately six different layouts, one was finally agreed upon – utilising Perspex screens to help make the most of the space. Our next challenge was how to get dishes to our guests without breaching social distancing?! We’ve decided on the introduction of serving tables which stand adjacent to your dining table. It means our staff can keep their distance and you can protect your bubble, as plates are delivered to and collected from the serving table.

The legislation to reopen safely has been lengthy, and leasing a very old building presents its own set of challenges, but we’ve tried to think outside the box for ways to make our venue safe to visit. Also, because our reopening has been delayed in comparison to other restaurants, we’ve been able to see what ideas have worked elsewhere and also concepts which weren’t quite so successful. Cheeky, but true and incredibly valuable! 

Our new gazebo at the entrance allows us to greet everyone outside, and take temperature checks. We’ve also purchased walkie-talkies (much to our team’s delight!) which means despite having a small entrance, we can ensure guests are escorted into the restaurant without crossing the paths of other diners. It also means our staff are able to stay designated to certain areas of the restaurant and we can control the entrance of additional personnel, such as delivery drivers from our suppliers. Our main priority is safety. 

Probably our biggest development is with the use of technology. We’ve got a brilliant new booking system which maintains a safe capacity and staggers bookings to allow time for the sanitisation of areas between guests. We’ve switched to paperless menus, so you can either scan our QR code or go straight to our website, without needing to touch a menu! And to top it off we’ve integrated the free app Hopt with our till system – essentially it means you can order some of your favourite dishes from us to eat at home, without the need for coming inside the restaurant at all – our collection point is in the new gazebo.  

Finally, to top off our list of projects, we’ve given the outside dining area a freshen up: jet-washed, sanded and painted, plus a few new plants, as well as new umbrellas. We hope this continues to be a favourite spot, especially for locals! It has been wonderful to hear of local residents making use of the space whilst we were away. We hope it continues to be an area enjoyed by so many! 

Truth be told, there are definitely some perks from lockdown. We’ve had the time to think about what services we can offer for the future and how to use technology to make life more user-friendly for our customers, as well as more efficient. It’s certainly been a journey and we really hope you feel confident enough in our safety measures to come and give the new Orchard a try. 

Many thanks,

The Orchard team