How has 2020 changed people and pubs?

‘Seven years of blood, sweat and tears that we have put into our business started to disappear’

By Nicholas Hack, co-chef and owner, the Cadeleigh Arms, Tiverton, Devon

- Last updated on GMT

Government revelation: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms relives when he felt 'sick to his stomach' at the Prime Minister's announcement, closing pubs in March
Government revelation: Nicholas Hack from the Cadeleigh Arms relives when he felt 'sick to his stomach' at the Prime Minister's announcement, closing pubs in March

Related tags: Gastropub, Devon, Food

The next in our series of reflections on 2020 in the on-trade, award-winning chef and pub operator Nicholas Hack looks back on a ‘yoyo’ of tiers and lockdowns and building his business on 12 months of shifting sands.

It started as a positive year for us here at the Cadeleigh Arms.

We had just received news we had been nominated in to the Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs, won Exeter Living Awards best Gastropub and runners up for the Most Dog Friendly Pub in the South West Tourism awards, and runner up for Food Magazine’s​ Best Chef.

Then March came.

Boris announcing for people to stay away from pubs was more damaging than actually telling us to close. Business suddenly switched off like the flick of a switch.

The following week the announcement for the hospitality industry to close its bars and restaurants came.

Suddenly we can see seven years of blood, sweat and tears that we have put into our business, suddenly start to disappear. We felt sick to the stomach.

The first worries were our staff and our own wellbeing, bills, roof over our head (we live in our business), our health, not knowing what was going to happen with Covid-19.

Two weeks into the lockdown, furlough was announced and news of Government grants begin to surface. Things started to make sense, we could see we would be able to look after our staff thanks to the furlough scheme.

Nick Hack-2

We sat down together and started, like many others to diversify our business. Takeaway, online cookery classes, plenty of pushing on social media. Supporting the vulnerable in our village, developing new menus, decorating and plenty of jobs to do that we would never have time to do normally during opening hours.

We looked to support others in their hour of need, a shoulder to cry on, a supportive word, a kind ear for anyone wishing to vent their worries and frustrations. We also found this reciprocated by many others when we also felt down.

With news coming through about Government guidelines and making businesses Covid-secure before reopening, we started to develop the outside areas for dining, making our business Covid secure both inside and out and also bringing the staff back in for extensive training.

The reopening caused much anxiety, customers being unsure, Eat Out to Help Out bought a completely different kind of customer out. We had abuse, aggression, and a lot more. We stuck together and stayed strong throughout this period.

It all become to calm down after that and we settled back into some sort of normality. The takeaway remained as an integral part of our business.

Lockdown 2.0 came as no surprise and we were ready for it. We reopened again. We are now ready for Lockdown 3.0.

The yoyo of tiers and lockdowns in this industry has cause us a massive loss of turnover, but we have also learnt to be resilient and approach everything head on.

We are always grateful for our health and our family’s health and we look forward to 2021, vaccinations and positivity.

Related topics: News

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