Family tea room ‘wouldn’t be open without support of local people and government’

If it wasn’t for the support of local people and the government throughout lockdown, Julia’s Tea Rooms would not be open today.

Dave Aspall, who runs the independent tea room on High Street with his family, thinks the impact of the pandemic has reminded people that it really is a case of ‘use it or lose it’.

He said: “We’ve had really good support from the people of Ely. It’s nice to see people supporting independents - especially because there’s a lot of them here.”

While remaining closed for 100 days, they still offered a take away service and have since been open for seating for several months.

“Eat Out To Help Out really helped on Monday to Wednesday, but we also saw an increased footfall from Thursday to Saturday.

“I don’t know if people were saving money so they were heading out anyway but, since then, we’ve been doing quite well.

He added that the government support has been “really good” and that it “helped us through those 100 days that we were closed.

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“We wouldn’t have stayed open without the support they gave us.”

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Julia’s Tea Rooms would hold live music events - but Dave realises that it will be quite some time until that can happen again.

“Music-wise, I think it’s going to be a while before we can cram 41 people in a small room, but you’ve got to stay positive.”

“It does look like we’ll be able to bring board game nights back soon, but with a lot more safety measures.

As for the future, Dave is quietly confident: “It depends what happens but we want to be here for a long while. And, hopefully, we will be.”