Garden bar award success for quick-thinking Shropshire business owner

A smart-minded business-owner who converted her garden into an al-fresco bar after her other firms were hit by lockdown has been recognised for her ingenuity.

Belinda Griffiths set up an al-fresco bar after her other businesses were hit by lockdown. Photo: Birgitta Zoutman Photography
Belinda Griffiths set up an al-fresco bar after her other businesses were hit by lockdown. Photo: Birgitta Zoutman Photography

Belinda Griffiths runs Wyle Blue World on Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury, and JungleLand in Telford.

But as the country emerged from the first Covid lockdown last July she was faced with the prospect of either not being able to reopen, or a severe reduction in trade, so set about coming up with an alternative business venture.

She created the blueBAR, an al-fresco venue – in her garden.

The bar proved such a success that earlier this week she was presented with an award for winning the 'Instore Creativity' category in the Good Retail Awards.

In setting up the venture Mrs Griffiths, had used furniture from JungleLand, and glasswear and walnut chopping boards – which became plates – from Wyle Blue World.

It proved so popular the Mrs Griffiths is also intending to make it a permanent venue when the latest lockdown restrictions are eased.

She said: "I had never done it before but we came out of lockdown and the shop was quiet so I thought 'I have to do something'.

"That's why I won the award, because I was creative, used my initiative and what they said was that we achieved success against the challenges of Covid.

Belinda Griffiths won the 'Instore Creativity' category in the Good Retail Awards after setting up a bar in her garden last year

"I used furniture from Jungleland, I had the food cooked on a fire pit, people ate off walnut chopping boards from the shop. It was brilliant because it was very spontaneous and happened very quickly.

"Friends from town, friends of friends helped me put it together, bringing in people from outside Shrewsbury and lots of local support. It had a really nice buzz, it was just fun, which was needed at the time."

She added: "Because it was outdoors I think that helped make it so popular. We still had to comply with no mixing of households, all the regulations, but because it was so popular I am now going for a full licence."

Mrs Griffiths said she had used local firms and producers for the bar, and said that the pandemic had helped foster a real community spirit among Shrewsbury's independent traders.

She said: "I had so much support from local independent businesses so thank you to everyone, they all support each other."

She added: "I think Covid has really brought all the independents in Shrewsbury together – even more than before."

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