Covid-secure trading 'a very different way of working' says GBPA winner

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cautious approach: a Great British Pub Award winner has finally reopened after months of closure amid the coronavirus pandemic
Cautious approach: a Great British Pub Award winner has finally reopened after months of closure amid the coronavirus pandemic

Related tags: Entertainment, Live music, Bournemouth, Devon

The operator behind the Great British Pub Award winning Chaplin’s and The Cellar Bar has described his first week of reopening as having exceeded trading expectations.

The Bournemouth-based bar and music venue remained closed over the summer even after pubs were permitted to open on 4 July after coronavirus lockdown but is back in business after reopening on 1 September. 

Operator Harry Seccombe said he was taking a “cautious approach” with the venue, which used to host live gigs every day of the week.

“We are taking it very easy at the moment and taking it slowly,” Seccombe told The Morning Advertiser (MA) ​following his site's first week of post-lockdown trade. 

This means for now the bar is operating at “regular pub hours” and its cellar where bands would regularly perform pre-lockdown​ is still closed off.

Table service

“We're not really equipped to deal with late night revellers, making them sit down all night etc,” Seccombe continued.

Work is underway on a new restaurant space and toilets, set to open in October, which will enable the bar to launch its food offer.

Seccombe said: “We're doing a lot of booking tables so we can know what to expect but we have been working close to capacity. Obviously it’s a much more limited capacity.”

“Trade has been very positive. We have had a very good response,” he added. “Everyone is very pleased we are open. All the musicians are chomping at the bit for us to do some music.”

The bar has been reviewing its protocols every couple of days to work out the best way to operate in ‘the new normal’.

Tiring work

“It's a very different way of working,” the publican said of the venue’s decision to run a table-service only operation. “Staff are quite tired.”

The venue has applied for a Government Cultural Recovery Fund, delivered by the Arts Council.

Seccombe hopes he can book bands six months ahead with the funding. “Then when social distancing is reduced or no longer necessary we will be ready to go with bands booked and our normal offer.”

He added: “It's a holiday town but we are quite an all year round business. I'm not too worried that we’re out of the holiday season.” 

The bar won Best for Entertainment at the 2019 Great British Pub Awards.

Related topics: Entertainment

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