‘It’s weird seeing staff and regulars almost every day and then just nothing’

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Pub love: ‘I’ve been running it for seven years on 1 June, it’s all I’ve really known for that time period,’ Justine Lorriman of the Royal Dyche explains
Pub love: ‘I’ve been running it for seven years on 1 June, it’s all I’ve really known for that time period,’ Justine Lorriman of the Royal Dyche explains

Related tags Public house Alcoholic beverage Coronavirus

Justine Lorriman of the Royal Dyche pub describes the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown on her pub and explains why she and her team can’t wait to reopen.

“Being away from the pub in general is the hardest thing for me,” Justine Lorriman of the Royal Dyche in Burnley, Lancashire, tells The Morning Advertiser​. “I’ve been running it for seven years on 1 June, it’s all I’ve really known for that time period.

“I don’t live on-site so it’s been very difficult being at home. I try not to worry but when you’ve put your life and soul into something for so long it’s hard not to.”

Formerly known as the Princess Royal, the Royal Dyche – located less than half a mile from Burnley Football Club’s Turf Moor home – Lorriman renamed the pub in May 2018 in honour of Clarets boss Sean Dyche after he secured European football for the pub’s local side after a 51-year absence​.  

Like Dyche, Lorriman has helped reinvigorate one of the Lancashire town stalwarts, steering the Royal Dyche to the final of the 2019 Great British Pub Awards’ Best Pub Garden​ category in 2019, for example. 

“I’m always planning or organising events for the pub, looking for the next improvement in the building or beer garden,” she says. “It’s very surreal not being able to be ticking things off the list anymore.

“Because we are wet-led and our licence only allows us to sell alcohol on the premises, we have completely shut down. I feel like the safety of my staff needs to come first, we had a staff meeting the day after Boris’s announcement​ and have been completely shut since then.”

Royal Dyche 2

Staff more important than ever 

A regular haunt for fans visiting Turf Moor on match day, the Royal Dyche has, likewise, seen fixtures wiped off its spring and summer schedule by the coronavirus lockdown. 

“There were plenty of events planned such as live music gigs, DJ events, Mother’s Day and St George’s Day – and the one I’m most upset about is our annual Good Friday 5k charity pub walk,” Lorriman explains. “We were supporting Sepsis UK this year, which is a personal charity for many people in Burnley. 

“There’s always next year but when so much planning and promoting has gone into something and counting down, it’s a heart-breaking feeling when everything is just out of our control. 

“The next big one will be our music festival in August ‘PrinFest’ – it’s a free event, we have 16 bands and acts booked in.” 

Yet despite closure, Lorriman explains that the support provided by the Government and breweries supplying the pub has given her “huge confidence”. 

“I’m not worried about finances just yet,” she tells The Morning Advertiser​.

“We qualify for the £10,000 grant and the Government provides 80% of the wages. The breweries will take back any unopened kegs and refund them. We are lucky to have savings to help us tick over until all this support becomes available. 

“My staff will also be paid 100% of their wages for the next three months, regardless of what happens. I’m going to need them more than ever when all this is over.”

Excited to reopen 

Lorriman, who says she’s had plenty of regulars message privately to check in and has been keeping in close contact with staff via WhatApp and Facebook, explains that despite lockdown likely being in its early stages both she and her team can’t wait to get back to the Royal Dyche.

“I’m excited to see my staff and all my regulars, it’s weird seeing these people almost every day and then just nothing,” she said. 

Looking to the pub’s future, she’s hopeful the lockdown won’t pull the rug from under planned improvements to the site and its GBPA finalist garden with a team member giving the pub a new lick of paint behind closed doors.

“One of my tenants is a painter and decorator,” she continues. “I stocked up on paint for him for inside and for the beer garden, so it will be really nice to go back and for everything to look fresh. Fingers crossed we are approved for planning permission and we can get the outdoor bar and balcony ready for when the football season kicks up again – that’s something I’m very excited about. 

“I’m also looking into applying to the council to get the main road closed where our pub is located on when all this is over – team up with all the venues around us and have one big street party. When we can almost see an end, hopefully we can get something in place.”

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