A north-east hotel is preparing for a “new normal” by installing outdoor dining domes and refurbishing its beer garden.
The Square in Kintore, which has been closed for three months, hopes to welcome customers back on Saturday.
Due to physical distancing measures, the hotel, bar and restaurant has lost 75% of its capacity and to make up for this, owner Steve MacDonald is refurbishing the beer garden and installing transparent dining domes to offer families and small groups somewhere to eat out.
With phase two potentially starting this week, Steve is in the middle of getting the restaurant and bar area set up, and has earmarked next Saturday as opening night.
He said: “We’ve got three domes arriving from abroad which we will hopefully have installed by the middle of July in front of the hotel.
“It will offer people a formal dining experience with ventilators pumping fresh air into them every three minutes.
“These will be available to book for two and a half hours at the time and will be for four to eight people.
“Provided we can get stock and of course the go-ahead from the government. we are hoping to be open on June 20.”
Steve is also completely changing service at the restaurant to make sure it is Covid-19 secure.
Customers will order their meals on an app, with servers then taking their food to a collection point where it can be collected.
LED lighting, USB charging points and TV will also be installed in the beer garden, which will be underneath a pagoda.
Steve hopes with these additions he can get The Square up to 30% capacity and make the business financially viable again.
He said: “We are going to be doing this for the foreseeable future and it will be the new normal all around the country.
“Our design will be very European looking although we still need to iron out some of the finer details.
“We have been stuck between a rock and a hard place during this pandemic but hopefully this will help us get back to a better financial footing.”
The Square is the latest north-east hotel to announce plans to cater for customers under new social distancing rules. The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen last week said it was planning to set up transparent igloos to allow diners to eat outside as well as installing an open-sided marquee.
The Square had been used as a temporary shop during the lockdown, with locals being able to buy fresh produce on-site.
The hotel was also offered to NHS Grampian for staff to stay in for free if they did not want to return home after working in the hospital.
Steve added: “We didn’t just want to sit back and twiddle our thumbs while we were closed, we wanted to operate within the community.”