When it was first announced that Sunderland was going to be getting a STACK, which was already such well a established venue in Newcastle, I was very apprehensive. Sunderland can be a strange place when it comes to investment and progress as there will always be people who complain about it (and complain they did!)
I know a lot of people were annoyed that the location chosen for it was our seafront, and not the city centre. The big argument was that the STACK would take business from these city centre pubs and restaurants. Or that it would be too cold in the winter and would not survive the winter and stay open for very long.
The STACK has now been open almost 2 months, and even with covid, it still seems to be one of the busiest places in the city. I believe this to be due to the current tier system in place and Sunderland Tier 2 position which is working in the venues favour. This means the rule of 6 applies to outside venues/ seating areas, whereas its one household inside. Since the STACK is an outdoor venue, groups of six can meet here, and it is one of the only places in the city where people can do that. As a result, the place is busy on weekend and even with the touch covid regulations there is still a great atmosphere here which feels flat in other places.
Track and Trace
I have been a few times now, and every time, track and trace is required before even entering the venue. They have 3 ways of doing depending on the guests tech, so even if they don’t have mobile phones to scan QR codes (For the NHS app or the businesses personal track and trace code), they have to write their details down. This applies to every individual too, not per party. This really sets the tone of the lengths the venue has gone to, to make its guests feel safe! And the results show as so far there have been no reported cases of covid being spread or anyone having to isolate after visiting the venue.
The long tables will never fit more than 6 people under covid rules, whereas normally they would fit 12. So when three parties of two sit at the tables, there is more than enough room between you for social distancing. There are also markings on the floor to show guests which ways to walk, and the queue outside is really well managed to ensure social distancing throughout. Overall, I feel very safe visiting the venue because of how thorough they have been with their procedures.
As for masks, these must be worn when moving around the venue this includes when you walk in/out, and when you get up to go to the loo. They even have security going round checking that people don’t forget to put theirs on when they go to the toilet.
With the more recent government guidance (in case you’ve missed it!) all bars and restaurants in our tier must provide table service to limit people walking around venues and businesses and touching things. So the STACK have an app which guests can download to order their food and drinks which are then brought over to you. There is literally no reason to leave your seat. Of course this means paying over the app, and I find I spend more money that way!
Every table has QR codes for the bar and then all of the food outlets. You simply use the app to scan the code and order whatever you’d like. But if you’re not very techy, you can order with one of the members of staff walking around.
The only issue with this is that drinks were a little slow. But given the limits on staff numbers etc, its something to be expected. But if you are the kind of person to drink very quickly (without going overboard of course), then maybe order two rounds to start with and then go from there?
I can’t believe how far into this post I have gotten before talking about the STAR of the show! The food options in the STACK are amazing. I am slowly working my way around each vendor. So far, its a steady tie as both Acropolis and Holy Duck are incredible!
I love venues like this where you have a multitude of options from very different cuisines. It caters to everyones needs. So a full list of vendors is as follows:
- Holy Duck
- Boogie Burger
- Downey’s Fish and Chips
- Chapo’s Tacos
- Farah’s Italiano
- Healthy Thaim
- Zza Pizzeria
- YOLO Coffee
- The Little Cakery
The venue is currently open 10am-10pm 7 days a week.
Roughly half the venue is for bookings, and the other is for walk ins, so booking isn’t 100% necessary. However, every time I have been past, the queue has been huge. Especially on a weekend. So if you can, I really would recommend booking which you can do by clicking HERE!
If anyone has already been, I’d love to hear about your experience. Have you tried one of these vendors, and if so which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!