Step Behind: The Bar

Welcome to our new blog series, ‘Step Behind’, where we’ll be hearing from the people that work behind the scenes at Islington Assembly Hall to make our physically-distanced shows possible. They’ll be talking us through their experience of reopening and working at a Covid-secure venue. In our first blog post of the series, we hear from Alice who works on our venue’s bars.

Over to Alice!

“Returning to work behind the bar post-lockdown has been a challenging yet thoroughly rewarding experience. Equipped with plenty of PPE and cleaning regimes, we’ve learnt how to keep both ourselves and our customers safe.

Through the new Islington Assembly Hall app we’re able to take orders remotely, and deliver your drinks straight to your tables with minimal person-to-person contact. And for those unable to use the app for whatever reason we can still take old-school card or cash payments from your seat. No need to queue at the bar anymore!

Despite all the changes, our first show back on Thursday was as smooth and easy as we could have hoped for.Two pints of beer in plastic cups on a table

Each bar has been set up for one drinks-pourer to operate, with two floor staff ready to deliver the drinks, clear tables, and sanitise touch-points (door handles, card readers, etc.). Once an order is placed on the app it pings directly to our screen behind the bar, telling us the items, table number, and how soon you want it (although I haven’t seen anyone go for anything other than “ASAP” so far). It’s really simple and after the initial nerves of seeing it work for the first time, we all got used to the system very quickly.

Surfaces and pouring equipment are cleaned regularly throughout the show, and of course hands are sanitised within an inch of their life. Around the seated areas we have a strict one-way system, for floor staff to follow as well as customers coming in and out, and each “pod” of two seats is distanced at 1.5m in order to minimise every chance of getting too close to one another.

Poster standing on a bar top directing customers to download our app in order to buy drinks for table service

It’s been a long-awaited return to live music for many of us, and although it may not be the same freeing experience of a standing show, it definitely beats sitting at home. From what I’ve seen we at the Assembly Hall have gone above and beyond, even more so than other venues, to ensure we can bring our gigs back safely, and are keen to share exactly how we’re doing so with our customers.”

– Alice Jenner