DIARY OF AN (EMPTY) PUB LANDLORD CONTINUES – 18 June 2020

Since 8th May, there’s been lots happening, but also not a lot! Where to start…….

RENT
There is still no conclusion on our rent issue. It has been time consuming and stressful not least because it has inhibited my ability to plan and focus on other important things like reopening plans, staff training and other such practicalities. Only time will tell where we get with it. There is talk of a Code of Practice for Commercial Property coming into force on 24 June. I have been part of a group of other tenants who have drawn up a draft of what we feel is a fair Code of Practice that shares the burden caused by COVID19 with landlords. Our MP, Sir Bernard Jenkin has been immensely helpful and delivered it to Paul Scully MP who is leading the Government’s workforce on this issue. For sure, there are other drafts that landlords have prepared. Hopefully the Government will recognise the tone ours has been written in – fair, collaborative, practical – and adopt more of it. The reality is, rent is a form of profit share and there hasn’t been any profit for 101 days now. Nor will there be for quite some time.

WHEN DO WE OPEN
Ask Boris. We still haven’t been given a date nor guidance. Yes it is expected to be 4 July but we don’t know how or whether inside or out. We were promised 3 weeks notice and better planned than lockdown. But as of today, we don’t know. And we really need RENT sorted first. Frustrating is not a strong enough word!

ONE OR TWO METERS?
I was asked for my opinion on this for a piece in the Daily Telegraph, link HERE. In an ideal world the government would leave it up to us – the operators. My feeling is that most of our guests will manage their own distancing as they did in the weeks leading up to lockdown. Of course, there will be those that don’t but we will help and encourage. Of course, there may be other venues that won’t manage things like us. I can only speak for myself and our business. If we are forced to adopt 2m distancing rule, we will have to remove about 70% of our tables. Regardless of what happens with rent or summer weather, we simply won’t survive this way. However, if it is 1m, we lose one table and reduce covers on others so the total loss would be around 30%. In both instances, we won’t have anyone standing in or around the bar area which will reduce income. It’s why the rent is such a conundrum….or not!

OUR MENU
Assuming we reopen in July, our menu is now available HERE. We have reduced the main menu slightly and will continue to change it with the seasons, every 4-6 weeks. We have expanded our bar menu which will be available all day – there will also be small seasonal changes made but the format will remain the same. Breakfast is also available to non-residents when booked in advance from 8.15am until 10am. We hope you like these updates.

OUR DRINKS LIST
The team have been working hard on reinvigorating our drinks list especially non-alcoholic options. We also hope to add two new draft beer lines (with thanks to Adams for this support). I have almost finished the new Wine List (started in January if you recall!). It will be a little shorter but will be great fun and still have the Desert Island bottles. Though a lot of stock from this section has been sold, big thanks to all who bought some. We are still selling off sales and will continue to do so when we reopen. You can shop HERE

OUR ROOMS
Assuming we are allowed, we hope to take overnight guests from 10 July.

SUNDAY EVENINGS
When we do reopen, we will be closing every Sunday evening from 5pm EXCEPT Bank Holiday weekends. We are doing this to allow for deep cleaning, staff training without the time constraint of service. We apologise in advance for those who enjoy visiting on Sunday evenings. On the upside, Sunday lunch will be served until 4pm instead of 3pm and will now feature TWO roasts as well as a vegetarian version.

ALFESTO
Very sadly, Alfesto will NOT go ahead this year. I think that has been obvious for some time. But thankfully it will in 2021 (subject to the obvious COVID19) and presently half the bands who were due to play this year have agreed to next. So add 10 and 11 July 2021 to your diaries – it will be worth waiting for!

OUR COVID19 OPERATING PRACTICES
We are still awaiting official guidance from the government on this but have had a draft from UK Hospitality of their recommendations so we are taking a led from that. Here is an outline of some of the things we will be carrying out:

  • All our staff will have temperatures checked and logged along with a daily audit of their health and wellbeing. A full digital record of this will be kept. Any team member showing any symptoms or who’ve knowingly been in contact with anyone with symptoms will not allowed to work for 14 days.
  • We will not be wearing masks, gloves or other such items (unless mandatory). We will not have perspex screens on the bar or between tables (unless mandatory).
  • We will have numerous sanitiser stations and bottles throughout the building and at the entrance to the loos and in the loos.
  • We will request all guests who visit to provide contact details. More than likely we will operate a booking only system, even for just drinks, but we don’t want to lose the essence of being a pub you can pop to on a whim. So more on this in next few days.
  • We will enhance all our cleaning protocols.
  • We will ensure all our team keep a safe distance with you and each other while they are at work.
  • We would encourage all that visit to only visit if they are showing no symptoms or have not knowingly come into contact with anyone showing symptoms. And when here, respect distancing, wash your hands and use sanitiser provided.
  • Where we can, a one-way system will be in place to manage entry and exit from the pub.
  • All service for food and drinks will be provided at the table and so guests will be unable to buy drinks from the bar. We are working on mobile apps for guests to order food and drinks and we already have our comprehensive booking system.
  • Tables will only be laid once guests are seated.
  • To ensure good distancing between tables, some will be reduced where necessary, so availability will be reduced. Just come more often!
  • In our kitchen, our team will be working in sections that are far apart and will be enhancing working practices that were already 5*, even more.
  • Weather permitting, our garden and terrace have been worked on for you to enjoy food and drinks outside. Weather permitting obviously.
  • Before we reopen, all our team will have relevant training and guidance to be able to work confidently with these new measures and operations in place.

    We can’t wait to reopen and look forward to seeing you, hopefully very soon!

    Piers

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