Opinion

‘We struggle with the daily barrage of newspapers guessing when we will be open’

By Fiona Hornsby, the Denbigh Castle and the Bridewell, Liverpool

- Last updated on GMT

Newspaper speculation: 'We know in our hearts they know no more than us and are just filling column inches but the stress this brings when they throw months like July and September causes nothing but worry'
Newspaper speculation: 'We know in our hearts they know no more than us and are just filling column inches but the stress this brings when they throw months like July and September causes nothing but worry'

Related tags: Opinion, Newspaper, Freehouse, Coronavirus

Last year was an interesting one. We secured a long lease on the Denbigh Castle in Liverpool city centre and 2020 began with great hope and excitement.

We got to December and Liverpool was allowed out of lockdown and pubs with food were allowed to open. We don’t sell food usually but partnered with Amalia the Italian Restaurant opposite the Bridewell – our other pub – to offer pizza, and Pimblett’s Pies in the Denbigh. 

Then on 30 December the bad news came, we were closing again – and this time we know its going to be a long one.

We were disappointed not to be allowed to do takeout, that extra bit of cash could have filled so many holes, but we know that’s it, we are closed, and we have to find another focus to keep the minds busy for the next few months. 

We all just want to work and in previous lockdowns the mind is the thing we have learnt we must look after.

‘We know the business will be safe’ 

I have been fortunate enough to be asked to join a group fully funded by Growth Liverpool in which a group of like-minded but different businesses meet virtually every fortnight to discuss the challenges we have and the best way forward. It covers all areas of hospitality – pubs, restaurants, hotels, event management, outside catering – the sharing of experiences and knowledge is incredibly beneficial.

The brewers have come through with support and assistance once again, and Liverpool City Council have provided additional grants to the independent hospitality sector which has been huge and so very well received locally. 

We know the business will be safe until such time we are allowed to open.

Fiona

So what do we do? We have decided to focus on marketing and learn how to be better at it on the other side. The local market will be the first to return, followed by day trippers and city breaks. 

Liverpool has such a lot to offer we are confident the bounce back will not take long. International visitors and football tourism may be some way off, but we can try and be prepared to take advantage of this if we can get our marketing right.

Speculation causes ‘nothing but worry’

Our team mean everything. We have managed to pay 100% and while this is constantly under review we hope to maintain it until we reopen. We check in regularly to see how they are coping and make sure they all know they will have a job to return to. 

We struggle with the daily barrage of newspapers guessing when we will be open – we know in our hearts they know no more than us and are just filling column inches but the stress this brings when they throw months like July and September causes nothing but worry.

Lastly, wet-led pubs have received the least support when so many of us are at the heart of the communities in which we operate – 5% VAT did nothing for us, Eat Out to Help Out was pointedly for restaurants and food pubs.

We hope the rates holiday continues, and that the brewers are considerate in their price rises to ensure we all survive and thrive when this dreadful pandemic is over. 

Related topics: Other operators

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