UK Grand Summer Outdoor Café is a campaign started by Alan Lorrimer, founder of The Piano Works, with the aim to safely re-start the UK hospitality industry by transforming public spaces and streets into fabulous al fresco dining spaces whilst adhering to physical distancing.

The campaign proposes that seating on pavements, squares and open spaces outside of restaurants and bars be permitted and is calling on the government to issue a directive to grant local authorities a temporary deregulation to allow tables and chairs outside existing hospitality businesses.

We aim to raise a lot of money in order to be able to provide vouchers to our frontline workers to say a huge thank you for keeping us all safe. These vouchers will be used in our venues either as part of our Grand Summer Outdoor café or in the venues themselves when it is safe to do so.

What led to this initiative taking place? 

After weeks of very pessimistic reporting on the COVID19 crisis from the media, Alan came across the first positive news piece from CNN’s website since this crisis erupted. CNN reported on an incredible initiative from the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, planning within days to utilise the use of outdoor space for bars, restaurants and cafés to operate. This would increase seated capacity and help businesses cope with the requirements of physical distancing. Alan at that point just thought “Why can’t we do this here” and so began.

Who’s involved?

The team at The Piano Works are running the campaign with the support of our tech partners Eagle Eye and Wireless Social. We are also currently supported by over 100 key industry operators and this number grows daily.

We are asking all supporting operators and partners, customers, to donate money so that unique vouchers can be issued to our frontline workers, the vouchers will have a value and bar code and can be used at any of our participating venues.

How can this help businesses?

This campaign will potentially enable operators to increase their seated capacity by allowing them to use previously inaccessible outdoor areas for seated dining or drinking tables. This will help them manage physical distancing measures when reopening and increase their heavily reduced capacities making reopening commercially viable. The money raised for the frontline vouchers will be spent and reimbursed to operators at face value, driving business into their venues and increasing customer confidence to go out by being aware of frontline workers socialising in our venues.

What are your plans for this initiative to be rolled out across the UK? Have you had operators sign up in different regions? 

UKGSOC was set up with being UK wide from the beginning and we have already had many multisite, UK wide operators sign up. We need more and we need to push our message out to all corners of the UK as this is a project that would benefit the economy and hospitality industry across the United Kingdom. If you could contact your database of operators to get involved and support our campaign we would be hugely grateful.

When could we see this come to fruition and what are the next steps to getting there? (including the different people, organisations & timings involved)

The first part of our campaign has succeeded and The Minister for Local Government is reported as saying he is considering granting a blanket permission to allow tables and chairs outside hospitality venues, subject to highway and safety concerns. This is great news as we enter the second stage of the campaign. We are generating a lot of press interest in the idea of encouraging the public to say thank you and donate money to provide our frontline workers with complimentary vouchers to be used at our venues.

Why is it important for operators to register?

We need to create a groundswell of support from within the industry by gaining support from operators who would help raise funds to support the issuing vouchers to our key frontline workers by spreading the word to their respective databases. In turn, our wonderful frontline heroes will come back and spend these vouchers in their venues allowing operators across the UK to get back to doing what they do best – caring for people and serving top quality food and drinks to their loyal customers.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This is the important part:

Please take part and donate. Visit the campaign website to provide more information and they can direct their supporters to our JustGiving page at to donate.

The best way you can support our campaign is by encouraging your operators to sign up to the campaign at and helping us spread the word to their vast network of partners and clients. We have a letter ready that you could issue to your database should you be willing to do so. All the support we can get is hugely appreciated.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Lyn Harding says:

    Great idea. How many square metres are required per person to sit around a table. Australia have said 4 sq.mtrs pp.

    • Michael Kill says:

      We are awaiting guidance from Government at the moment in terms of Physical Distancing, these are due in the next few days. At present it’s based on 2m Physical Distancing.

  • NTIA says:

    The Guidance has changed slightly now with 1m-2m SD space there is a greater opportunity for this to succeed.

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