Pub apologises after ruining customers’ Christmas Day lunch

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bean and gone: a long wait for grub on Christmas Day sparked a walk-out after a pub struggled to cope with demand
Bean and gone: a long wait for grub on Christmas Day sparked a walk-out after a pub struggled to cope with demand
One Christmas Day diner was forced to feast on beans on toast for lunch after a pub struggled to cope with high demand.

Last month, The Morning Advertiser ​reported about the increase of customers heading to their local pub to eat on Christmas Day in order to save money​ – sadly, many customers at the Birches Head pub in Stoke-on-Trent were left disappointed.

More than 70 people were booked in for a £40 festive three-course meal, but only a small proportion of customers were actually fed – with many others furiously walking out.

Kathryn Fairbanks was one of a family group of 11 people who had secured a table in advance by putting down a £10 deposit.

She claims that while they had arrived early for their 2.30pm booking, by 3pm – no member of staff had approached their table.

Another member of Fairbanks's party was her sister-in-law, Janette Shankland, who made the reservation in August.

She labelled the day a "complete nightmare" and said she ended up having beans on toast when she got home.

Left in tears

A flurry of angry diners who attended the Staffordshire pub on Christmas Day took to online website TripAdvisor to describe, on what is supposed to be, 'the most wonderful time of the year'.

One reviewer labelled the service as “abysmal” and said they were left in tears after it ruined their Christmas.

“We booked Christmas Day lunch for 3pm and arrived at 2.45pm to find the restaurant full, but no food to be seen,” the post read.

“When questioned, the seated diners said they had been waiting for over two hours – as we only live five minutes away we returned home – I was in tears as the day was ruined and we ended up ordering a pizza.”

Another diner spoke of their disgust and wrote: “Waited an hour for our starter then another hour for our main.

"We didn't want to wait another hour for dessert so we left without paying the balance."

Free meal offer

But pub manager Annette Townley – who was also responsible for cooking the food – was unable to cope with the "high demand" and said a combination of overbooking by the previous tenants and latecomers turned Christmas Day into a "disaster". 

She added that she “can’t apologise enough” after she left a waitress, who was working on her first day, to cater for over 70 hungry diners.

Inglenook Inns, which owns the venue, has since profusely apologised to its customers and wants to reassure them that it will not happen again.

A spokesperson said: “The pub manager has a good heart and overestimated her ability to fulfil the bookings.

"While we can't put the clock back, we would like to invite those affected, whose details we have, to come back in January for a free meal by way of apology and would ask them to contact the pub directly to reserve a table."

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