Summer in the City: 14 things to do in Sheffield before the summer’s out

There’s no point in denying that the global pandemic has stolen a good chunk of summertime fun and games away from us all. It certainly was a tough ask at times, but hopefully our readers managed to find some comfort in the back-to-basics lifestyle we were asked to lead for months until lockdown measures eased back in June.

Now, Sheffield is slowly but surely reopening its doors. Caution and safety are naturally still a priority, but there is the opportunity to make the most of the final summer months with a wide number of socially distanced options ranging from gallery events to outdoor theatre to al fresco drinking and dining. In full support of the Make Yourself at Home campaign, we’ve rounded up some of the best shouts and speak to the people working to bring safe, enjoyable experiences back to the Steel City…

Tapas and drinks in the square @ Cubana
Celebrating their sixth year since moving into their two-floor Leopold Square home, the usually bustling tapas and salsa haven Cubana has been busy adapting to a whole new challenge this time around.  “It has been just as challenging as the big move six years ago; it’s another process of change and learning. It’s almost like opening a new business – but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by demand, we’re now used to this new way of working, and the feedback from customers has been fantastic so far,” says co-owner Adrian Bagnoli.

Live salsa and dancing – the undeniable soul of Cubana – may be off the cards until it’s safe to return, but they are still able to keep the heart of the business pumping away with quality food and drink served in their upstairs restaurant which has been modified carefully to meet social distancing guidelines, while the surplus seating has been brought downstairs for any overspill and to accommodate casual drinkers outside of busy service hours.

The venue reopened its doors the week following 4 July, allowing time to get important measures such as QR codes, new signage, spacing, PPE and staff training all up to scratch. “Safety of our customers and staff is of key importance to us,” Adrian told us. “We’ve also worked hard to ensure we maintain that special Cubana good times vibe, something I was initially concerned about losing. It’s surprised me how well it has all worked, to tell you the truth.”

Out of the new offerings introduced by the venue the drinks-to-go service on their popular sheltered terrace has been particularly successful on warm summer days, while another exciting development has seen permission granted for punters to head down into the square itself with drinks in case to maximise outdoor space.

It’s might be a slightly more relaxed affair inside these days, but Adrian is confident that until the dancing returns Cubana is still capable of offering one of the best drinking and dining experiences in the city. “Of course, when the salsa and the dancefloor are welcomed back it’s going to be a phenomenal party, but until then we will still offer that special experience. Whether that’s our incredible food or our award-winning rum menu – one of the finest in the country – it’s all here and ready for people to safely enjoy.”

PS: If you’re looking to snag a bargain, Cubana will be participating in the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme in August which means half-price food and non-alcoholic drinks every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday until August 31.

Enjoy the biergarten @ Sheffield Tap
As the first and final impression many commuters will have of the Steel City, high standards at the Sheffield Tap have always been a top priority. According to general manager Liz Casserly, it’s that proud commitment to providing a benchmark pubbing experience which has allowed the popular beer sanctuary to bounce back strongly following reopening – with a snazzy new-look outdoor space to go with it.

“I think many places across the bar and pub community here in Sheffield are used to being dynamic,” Liz told Exposed. “We have two universities with different freshers weeks, various big events running throughout the year, Tramlines, derby matches, varsity games, etc – so basically we’re used to and are pretty good at changing things up. We’re Yorkshire folk and we crack on and make do.”

Liz says that the extra cleaning and sanitising required has been something the team have quickly become used to, and while the table service might’ve initially felt a bit strange to some regulars in the venue situated at Sheffield’s train station, this new system has allowed the staff to hone in further on their customer service skills. As such, it hasn’t taken long for customers to realise the benefits of the far more hassle-free experience now on offer.

“Table service allows staff the chance to really focus on the customer, to have a bit more chat than they might’ve been able to do at a busy bar. We would offer a form of table service when it was quiet anyway, and I think as customers get used to the more continental style of service offered they’re beginning to realise how nice it is not having to go and queue at busy bars. When the sun’s shining and you’re outside having people fetch you drinks, it’s quite an easy thing to get used to!”

Feeding into the newly relaxed, continental feel is the addition of new seating and large biergarten-style brollies to provide some shade during sunny drinking sessions. Everything is spaced out according to government guidelines, and there’s no need to leave your seat if you don’t feel comfortable doing so.

If that’s not enough to tempt you in, the Sheffield Tap was recently crowned the city centre’s CAMRA Pub of the Year for its hard work pre-lockdown. Equipped as per usual with its wide range of world beers, craft offerings, on-site microbrewery and premium wine and spirit selection, it’s the perfect spot for some social and secure summer fun.

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