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Operators in it for the long haul with takeaway and delivery

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Portable pints: pubs and breweries have turned to takeaway and delivery services such as Forest Road Brewery (pictured)
Portable pints: pubs and breweries have turned to takeaway and delivery services such as Forest Road Brewery (pictured)

Related tags: Coronavirus

Takeaway and delivery could be the future of the pub as many operators plan to continue or expand on their offers in the weeks to come.

Forest Road Brewery sold 100 pints on bank holiday Friday (8 May), with the business able to bring cold pints to customers’ doors using a van.

Brewery owner Pete Brown said: “The whole reason this came about was ‘if people can’t come to the kegs, how can we get kegs to the people?’ It's a great thing for everybody. 

“We get to slowly chip away at our keg stock and simultaneously we give people what they really, really want, which is that experience of having a glass of beer. It’s just not the same in a bottle especially in England.”

According to a survey of British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) members, many operators are running takeaway offers to benefit their communities rather than to profit. 

The BII said most pubs that are offering takeaway and delivery services had traded less than 10% of their normal turnover. 

Several pubs that launched takeaway services at the start of the lockdown period have since shut down operations, citing safety concerns for staff or feeling it is more financially sustainable to remain fully closed for the period.

However, publicans have said it takes time to attract new customers and suggested starting with a modest offer that can be built on.

Licensee Carl Dilks took over the Fitzherbert Arms, Swynnerton, Staffordshire, shortly before the lockdown was announced. He has turned the pub into a farmhouse-style shop, selling alcohol as well as necessities such as milk and eggs. Until social distancing measures are eased, he says this is a good alternative. 

Tim Wilkins, head brewer at Bewdley Brewery, offers tips on how to operate a safe pick-up scheme

We have an online click-and-collect system in place, also welcome walk-ins, we sanitise the card machine before and after every transaction. Cash is also sanitised before put into the till. We have a customer exclusion zone in front of the till, with hand sanitiser. We wash or sanitise our hands before and after every customer. 

My advice to anyone wanting to do a takeaway service would be sanitise, sanitise, sanitise and set recommend social distancing measures. You should only have one customer in the premises at a time. 

Advertise well on social media to bring customers in and reassure customers that you take the recommended Government advice seriously.

He said: “I can’t see us getting back to normality within this year to be honest. Social distancing is fine if you have a massive pub and garden, and staff to police that, but we haven't. 

“And I have never been so busy. I’m positive about it and the reaction we have received from everyone has been amazing.”

His advice for other publicans is to not overdo it at first. 

He said: “We started this six or seven weeks ago and we have progressively done it week on week. It's a learning curve every day for us, for our suppliers as well.

“Look at it as a pub hub, we’re almost like a farmhouse. People who don’t usually come into the pub are coming in to buy eggs and other groceries. so it’s about incremental growth every week.”

For Suffolk-based Green Jack Brewing Co, director Tim Dunford said he is happy with the money being made from its takeaway beer service.

He said: “Customers were so glad that we had a long line round the pub when we opened.

“We would advise any publican to open. We only sell fresh beer because it’s the only thing you can’t get in the supermarket.”

For takeaway and collection, operators advised others implement a one-way system if possible and only allow one or two people at a collection point at a time.

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Related topics: Beer

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