The owners of a recently-opened cocktail bar have described their rollercoaster experience through the Covid-19 lockdown period.

Opened by Ricky and Stephanie Pledge back in October, the SP Bar, just around the corner from the Western Avenue end of Bridge Street, was thriving.

“We were doing really well,” says Stephanie. “We were getting a lot of bookings, and letting people know where we are.”

However, as with all other pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK, they were suddenly and unexpectedly forced to close on March 20.

“It was really odd,” she remembers. “A couple came in for a drink, and said they’d come back once everything was over. Then we closed.”

Andover Advertiser: SP Bar has reopened as lockdown measures have been easedSP Bar has reopened as lockdown measures have been eased

For months, the bar stayed closed, until the lockdown began to be eased. “We were listening to the grape vine along with other people,” says Stephanie, “and it took us another couple of weeks to decide to reopen.”

The SP bar found itself quite suited to socially distanced service, already offering table service and advanced bookings. “Though we’re small, we’re spread out enough,” she says. “We didn’t have to change anything after our risk assessment.”

Since reopening on July 24, the bar has been doing its best to bring customers back. Putting up flowers outside the bar, for instance, got a number of people asking when they could visit.

“There’s a steady flow of bookings,” says Ricky. “We were about 60 to 70 percent booked for Saturday.”

Some of their first customers were people looking to celebrate a special occasion. “We’ve had lots of couples in,” says Stephanie. “We had two who had just met up for the first time since lockdown, and it’s quite nice they chose us as the first place.”

While some bars will just be planning to get back to normal, the SP bar is planning to not only do that, but to expand its offering. “We’re starting a fresh Mexican menu in the next two to three weeks,” she says. “We’re also looking to introduce takeaway cocktails and food once we’re back on our feet.”

Though lockdown has been tough, the Pledges are hopeful that the community will support them now. “If people support independent business,” says Stephanie, “it will grow.”