SMALL businesses in Irvine have been enjoying welcoming customers through their doors since lockdown was eased across North Ayrshire.

And for the team at Small Take at the harbourside, it was great to be back in business with 96-year-old Neville Ramsay, a regular at the café, being the first to walk through the door.

“It was great to see Neville come through the doors,” said Anne Ritchie who owns the café with friend Alison McKenzie.

“Although we have been shut for months, it felt in that moment that it was a normal Monday and as the day went on more regulars appeared.”

The café had taken the decision not to open for takeaway, a difficult decision but one that they decided was best for their customers.

Anne went on: “We just felt our customers wouldn’t want to stand outside in the cold so we thought it best to close until we could re-open inside.

“It’s been a difficult time for everyone and we just want to make sure people can come in, sit back and relax again.”

Along the road at the Courtyard Studios, the artists had their doors open for the public to be able to see them at work again.

Among the workshops is Kelly Espindola, a leather designer who is working on her range, Hegri Handmade, and is loving being back at work.

She said: “It’s great now that people can come down and see us at work and I hope to run my sewing lessons as soon as we are able to.

“I just love the coastal surroundings, we are lucky to be here.”

For beauty therapist Claire Black, opening her salon Rest and Be Tranquil in Dreghorn is great news but she is still frustrated that she is unable to carry out facials treatments or facial waxing for her clients.

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She said: “Under the regulations therapists are still unable to carry out facials or wax upper lips or chins as the client has to wear a mask at all


“This is frustrating and we hope that this restriction is lifted soon as so many of our clients are missing these treatments.”

During lockdown Claire kept busy training online.

“It was a tough time, I missed working and I really missed the community within our wee salon,” explained Claire.

“I have Sarah who does our amazing make up and hair-up work and our three volunteer receptionists including my mum and our clients, I missed them all so much.

“It was worrying, I did not receive any financial help until last week so I still had rent to pay and overheads, I know some people decided not to re-open but I have worked so hard to open Rest and Be Tranquil, there was no way I was giving up on the team or the clients who support us.”