An all-day cafe and bar in Witham St Hughs is relishing the responsibility of being the village’s only social hub, as it launches a new menu after coronavirus closures left the venue with almost no staff.
The Market Lounge on Muntjac Way is situated in the heart of the small Lincoln village, and is the only business of its type in the area.
It was opened in March 2018 by Gary Molyneux, a man with a background in the printing industry who capitalised on a huge gap in the market.
He told The Lincolnite: “Witham St Hughs was crying out for a place like this. We’re sociable animals so we all want a place to come and catch up with people.
“We managed to get two years of trading before the first lockdown, when everything had to stop and naturally your survival instincts kick in.”
Gary said that lockdown provided him with a chance to re-evaluate the business and plan for his eventual return, but it didn’t come without difficulty.
He lost 16 of his 17 staff members after COVID-19 made jobs uncertain, including all the chefs, and had to restart from scratch.
The Market Lounge could only offer takeaway services for most of lockdown, and could only open partially during the second lockdown as a result of Lincolnshire being in tier 2.
Now, with a new staff team and a fresh menu which launched on Wednesday, the business is ready to level up and go to the next level, all while offering a much-needed service for the people of Witham St Hughs.
“We’re the first bar style offering for the village, so naturally the community support has been fantastic. The power of positivity has really shone through despite the difficulty of the pandemic.
“The way I see it, if we can make it through three lockdowns, losing almost all our staff, not being able to use the kitchen or bar for months, and still be here, we can make it through anything,” he said.
The bar offers breakfast, lunch, evening and Sunday roast menus, all with vegetarian and vegan alternatives, as well as a range of cocktails and wines, seven days a week from 9am to late.
“It’s important to fit a wide demographic,” Gary said. “We have kids in for meals after school, parents in for coffee after the school run, regular punters at the bar, those who enjoy the restaurant and also cyclists who might just be passing by in the area.”
Table service will be kept at The Market Lounge beyond the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, as Gary feels it helps add to the complete customer experience.
There are also plenty of very exciting plans in the pipeline for The Market Lounge, including a bid to extend the venue and create a separate dining room for restaurant customers.
Gary’s final words to me were “watch this space” so be sure to keep an eye out for the promising growth of The Market Lounge as it continues to serve the people of Witham St Hughs and beyond.