‘Main priority is protecting staff’ says Pelle Pub Co boss

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Staying afloat: one publican has told The Morning Advertiser about her dedication to protecting her staff (image: N Chadwick, Geograph)
Staying afloat: one publican has told The Morning Advertiser about her dedication to protecting her staff (image: N Chadwick, Geograph)

Related tags: Cambridge

A publican has described how protecting her staff is the most important aspect of her business as pubs across the country struggle to stay in operation.

Hayley Pellegrini operates the Cambridge-based Pelle Pub Co, which owns the Portland Arms, the Alex and the Hopbine.

Like many others, she has been trying to ensure the survival of the business by introducing beer takeaway offers and maintaining a rigorous hygiene routine for the locals who still want to visit her sites.

She told The Morning Advertiser​ she had canvassed individual staff opinions on whether they would like to continue working at the pubs on fewer hours or seek another job elsewhere for a while.

The operator said: “I'm reading things of people just sacking their staff, it breaks my heart. It's just not necessary.”

While it is not possible for the pub to offer part-time staff who have another income any more shifts, Pellegrini said the offer of a job was open to them when things get back to normal.

Some pub staff were looking at working for supermarkets, which have been recruiting thousands of extra staff members to cope with demand from shoppers.

The pub group has also tried to make the inevitable reduction in hours as fair as possible for full-time staff and have recommended staff hang onto their holiday pay allowance for if or when its pubs are forced to shut completely.

Communication with staff

Pellegrini added: “We’re trying to keep our staff informed and let them know their job is still there for them when this is all over. We’re just trying to do as much as we can to make them feel valued as much as anything.

“That’s the thing, it’s all right sacking people and in the back of their mind, I’m sure they are thinking ‘well there’ll be loads of staff when this is all over’, but actually if they have that reputation of not caring then who is going to want to work for them? I wouldn’t.”

Regulars to the three pubs have tried to support them and the business, but many are either key workers without the time to come in or concerned about money themselves.

She explained: “Obviously going to the pub is a luxury. We have boxes that we can put six craft beer cans in and we have got the two-pint takeaway option so people can take beer away with them. But people are more concerned about where they can get pasta, rice and toilet roll at the moment, rather than getting their takeaways from the pub, unfortunately.”

Financial support needed

The publican is among many readers of The Morning Advertiser​ to feel that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been slow to implement financial support for the venues he told the public to swerve.

She said: “Unfortunately, not many of us are feeling very positive at the moment, especially because all of this promised assistance is still not accessible. 

“We are literally screaming at the TV, at quarter past five every day. It's just ridiculous.

“It was quite comical yesterday, we put the news on at the Alex and I got sick of hearing [Boris Johnson’s] voice so I switched it off. When we put the music back on, the first song to play was It's the end of the world as we know it​. Well, I nearly fell off my chair.”

Related topics: Other operators, UnitedWeStand

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