How has 2020 changed people and pubs?

‘We spent more than £100k to trade for 6 hours’

By Chris Tulloch, MD Blind Tiger Inns

- Last updated on GMT

Ultimate bombshell: ‘we are hoping that next time we open a great new pub, it doesn’t have to close down within six hours’
Ultimate bombshell: ‘we are hoping that next time we open a great new pub, it doesn’t have to close down within six hours’

Related tags: Finance, Pubco + head office, Drinks, Coronavirus

In the third instalment of our series looking back on the past 12 months, we hear from Blind Tiger Inns’ Chris Tulloch and his reflections on opening a pub on the day the UK entered its first nationwide lockdown.

The Aigburth Arms in Aigburth, Liverpool, was the third new pub opening for Blind Tiger Inns in 2020, set for its grand opening on Friday 23 ​March. 

Following two previous openings this year in Burnley and Preston, this was the final opening planned of the year for the expanding pub company.

The £100,000 refurbishment was complete, the teams were trained, and the bar was stocked and ready.  As Andy Kelly, the general manager of the site told us: “We were all set and ready to go for our opening at 6pm, and the excitement from the locals to have their pub back open was phenomenal. 

“Rumours of potential Covid lockdowns had started to circulate, but our team were ready and people were queuing up to get in and see the transformation.”

Then, at just after 5pm, Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped the ultimate bombshell – all pubs would be closing from midnight on 23 March.  

This meant that after months of planning and more than £100,0000 spent on transforming the venue, the Aigburth Arms would only be able to trade for six hours.


The pub was then closed until its second reopening on the 13 July. What a reopening this was.  

Everything had to change to become compliant with distancing, and many plans had to be put on hold in terms of entertainment and events, but the local community showed their support for the lovely new venue.

There followed a myriad of rules and tiers over the following weeks, with the ‘rule of six’, single households, curfews and the like.  

There then followed another killer blow, when Merseyside was closed again in early October.

Things have moved on, and the menu has been tweaked to allow for the serving of substantial meals, although no Scotch eggs are to be seen in this site.  

As it stands, the Aigburth Arms is now in tier two and has reopened for the third time during since March.

Positively, every time the pub has opened – or reopened – the feedback and support from the local community has been phenomenal, and things look great for the future. 

Opening three new pubs in the first quarter of 2020 seemed like a good idea at the time. 

We are still really pleased with the additions to our estate and the teams at these and all of our sites have remained positive despite the challenges and uncertainty.  

We are still looking to the future and 2021 should be great for Blind Tiger Inns, but we are hoping that next time we open a great new pub, it doesn’t have to close down within six hours.

Related topics: MA500 Business Club

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