The flags at Elaine's Tearooms in the hamlet of Feizor, North Yorkshire will be flying to tell customers they are open for business

Elaine Knowles will be putting out the flags to let people know her tearoom’s are once again open for business.

Elaine’s Tearooms which were once the owner’s lounge and dining room in the small hamlet of Feizor, near Settle will be opening its doors today for the first time since lockdown.

However, while they were not serving customers at tables, the tearooms have been in use, selling fruit and veg boxes, handling deliveries and more recently providing a takeaway service.

But with the business able to re-open, Elaine has been busy getting it ready to receive its first visitors.

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    Elaine Knowles and her team get ready for business.

    “We’ve been painting and varnishing and we’ve altered the kitchen which is now all stainless steel to make it more suitable,” she said.

    “We’ve re-organised everything in the two rooms so, for now, there are just four tables in the top room and six in the bottom room.

    “It’s only one-third of the seating we would normally have but it fits in with all the guidelines.”

    The reduced seating is not the only precautions they have taken to ensure they fulfil the requirements for customer’s safety.

    “We’ve taken out the cushions and thrown away all the magazines we would normally have been around. We’ve got rid of all the salt and pepper pots and replaced them with sachets.

    “We’re playing it all by the book and we will be taking names and addresses of everyone who comes for the next three weeks.”

    Elaine said they had made the decision that waitresses would wear face visors which they thought was more suitable than masks.

    But while she may have given her name to the tearoom, Elaine said she is very much the engine room rather than front of house where her daughter Sharon takes charge.

    “They don’t let me out front,” Elaine said with a smile.

    “If people ask silly questions I am inclined to say what I feel, such as ‘do you not watch the news?’ When they ask for things like a glass instead of paper cup.”

    Elaine’s Tearooms are big draw for Feizor, not just for the walkers, Elaine always felt it would serve - the business started as a hobby selling ice-cream to passing walkers - but for cyclists, motorcyclists and any visitors to the countryside around the hamlet.

    “I decided to start selling ice creams to walkers about 13-years-ago and put a sign outside saying ‘if the flags are out we’re open’.

    “The ice-creams progressed onto bottles of water and then cups of tea.

    “I had six cups and saucers in those days.

    “When I had the occasional request for Earl Grey I would say ‘you’re not in London here you know’.

    “It was only a hobby and I’d just open up on a nice day.

    “I’d pretty much retired apart from helping my husband, Jonathan, with his herd of Hereford and Hereford X cattle.

    “But it started growing and so I moved it into my dining room.

    “Then I started baking cakes, making sandwiches and quiches.

    “It got busier and people were watching telly in our front room.

    “I would say to people I could give them a duster while they were sat there watching tv.

    “Jonathan and I ended up living upstairs in the bedroom.

    What started as a business which only opened on fine days, took off and Elaine said it took over the couple’s lives.

    “Before lockdown we were open seven days a week from 8.30am to 4.30pm with 17 staff, three of which are full-time.

    “Feizor, where Jonathan was born, is such a small place.

    “We have no street lighting, no post box, church, pub and, unfortunately, no public bins or dog bins, but it is very popular for walkers and cyclists, and now motorcyclists.

    “We also get visitors from as far away as Preston, Blackpool and Manchester.

    “We used to have a walking writer who would come in regularly and he told me that there were six different walks into Feizor including the Pennine Way.

    “People also come to walk among the many species of flowers in Oxenber Wood.”

    Elaine’s Tearooms have also featured on TV, shown recently on Henry Cole’s Motorbike Show which is part of the ITV4 schedule.

    “I’d never heard of it - or him - but we’ve had lots of visitors since who have come because they saw the show.”

    When lockdown came Elaine took what she had learnt from her previous profession. A former burler and mender, someone who mends rolls of cloth, making things good, Elaine did exactly that with her own goods.

    “Lockdown came into place just before Mothering Sunday.

    “We had two completely sold-out sittings giving us 240 seats. We also had our outside trade and we had everything in ready to go.

    “That’s a lot of carrots, potatoes and vegetables.

    “We had to get rid of a lot of produce and so the sensible thing to do was to sell it all, so we put them together as veg boxes.

    “We sold them cheaply as we were more concerned with getting them sold and the produce not going to waste.

    Since then Elaine said they have been running the tearoom as a takeaway.

    “We have been providing scones, quiches and pies. Trade has been good, but we are delighted to be open again this weekend.

    As well as serving limited numbers of customers indoors, Elaine said they will also have the tables outside the tearoom.

    “We’ve always had tables outside and will do again starting from today.

    “It’s all going to be very different and not at all like it was before for quite some time, but we are all looking forward to welcoming back our regulars who have been coming for years. The girls might even let me out to see them.”