SPARK York has welcomed back a steady flow of guests since relaunching post-lockdown.

The open-air venue in Piccadilly is home to about 20 businesses, from food and drink operators to entrepreneurs who use it as a platform to prove their idea before venturing onto the high street.

Spark reopened on July 4, and director Sam Leach said it had been a positive start.

New measures include a one-way system, and a maximum capacity of 250 people, down from 450 - dependant on table occupancy, which is limited to six people, from no more than two households.

Tables are cleaned after each group, while the toilets are done every 15 minutes. There are hand sanitiser stations throughout. There is an online track and trace system, and Spark will soon be introducing a table ordering app system.

Sam said customers had been understanding, and their efforts were paying off, with people returning to Spark.

“We are really glad to be open. We have learned a lot. We are relatively fortunate that we are an open air venue, certainly in the summer months, which is our peak period.

“We have a steady flow during the week which is helpful for businesses. There’s only ever going to be a certain amount of people in the venue and staffing requirements are not that different whether it is a Wednesday or a Saturday. This means we can keep on top of processes. There will be a degree of a hit to revenue but it allows us to create an intimate atmosphere. It feels vibrant but not too busy.

“We take this very seriously. We want to attract people into the venue and we want to work with other businesses to promote an overall image of York businesses being responsible.

“If the situation is prolonged the main aim is to make sure this is a system we can continue to improve and keep in place and know it is not detrimental to business.”

He added: “My hope for York is that we will see solid footfall all year rather than people only coming in these six weeks or at Christmas. It is important for businesses to continue to innovate and make their businesses more resilient.”

Spark’s community of businesses include a massage and healing clinic, tattoo studio, a hairdresser and clothing shop alongside the food and drink operators. There is also space for events, office work, art workshops and music rehearsals.

Sam said the venue was fully occupied, with about five applications each week. He said 13 businesses had moved on to permanent units since Spark opened. “We are trying to create a natural conveyor belt where people can try something and move on.”

The Press Love Local Business campaign launched on June 15 and has been promoting businesses as they eased out of lockdown, while encouraging readers to support local.