Licensee of the Faulkland Inn, Radstock, Andy Machen, who has run the pub for the past three years alongside his wife Tina Paradise, said the energy and cost-of-living crisis’ have forced him to consider closing the doors for good.
He added: “The Government kept us all going through Covid, spent a fortune, and now we're through Covid, we're on our own.
“We [now] only open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, because there is no demand for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we were flogging a dead horse and just expending energy and staff hours.”
Machen, who is also a golf tour operator, explained the pub was turning over enough profit to stay afloat, despite only being open four days a week, until energy prices began to rocket with the Faulkland’s monthly electricity bill increasing from £550 to £1,100 on top of a rise in heating oil from 47p a litre to £1.04.
Hung out to dry
Furthermore, the pub’s cost of vegetable oil has increased from £19.99 to £39.99 for 12 litres, according to the operator.
Machen said: “We cannot increase our turnover to cover the amounts of the increase of the energy.
“We own the building lock, stock and barrel, so if the worst comes to the worst and we have to shut up shop, my wife and I, we just walk upstairs and watch Netflix, but the eight staff we employ have nowhere to go.
“This is their job, their livelihood, it feeds and clothes their children.
“They are hung out to dry by a Government, or a system, that has allowed these massive increases in energy costs.”
In light of the pub’s dire straits, Machen wrote to outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, stating the sector needed a reduction in VAT or any help to allow “breathing room” before pubs like the Faulkland are forced to close.
He said: “We put eight people out of an income if we don't get any assistance.
“A reduction to VAT back to what it was during the pandemic, that would give us some breathing room. Anything that gives us breathing room to pay [our] electricity bill would help.
“We've always said whilst the pub wipes its face, we will operate it as a pub, but as soon as it stops wiping its face, we're going to have to look at the position and that is the current situation.
“The industry bodies like the British Institution of Innkeepers (BII), the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality (UKH), I hope they grab hold of it.
“Nobody's really grasped the nettle of people going out of a job because [of] small business [closures]. They've alluded to it, but here's an actual case in point.”