As part of a series titled ‘How has 2020 changed people and pubs?’ to round off a turbulent 2020, a number of sector stakeholders relived their personal battles and successes from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Blind Tiger Inns’ Chris Tulloch looked back on opening a pub as the UK entered its first nationwide lockdown and being forced to close within a matter of hours – all after pouring a six-figure sum into the new launch.
“At just after 5pm, Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped the ultimate bombshell – all pubs would be closing from midnight on 23 March,” he said.
“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.”
Pubs and national news
On top of this, a number of operators used their platform to reflect on how stories that dominated front and back pages came to shape their year.
With overwhelming daily Covid case and hospitalisation figures, and the impact they were having on NHS frontline workers, difficult to put into context at times, publican Peter Collie shared his experience of serving staff from his local NHS Foundation Trust.
“Being in a very stressful situation some were actually crying with relief that they could get rid of some stress over a drink, as they used to do,” he wrote. “It was quite overwhelming.”
Additonally, Kate Stewart from the Sandon – a firm fixture on matchdays at Anfield – described the “heart-wrenching” feeling of not being able to celebrate Liverpool’s first Premier League title with supporters due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“As June approached, they lifted the cup and I was absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “But at the same time, I was completely devastated. We’ve waited 30 years for this moment and as a city, the celebration the team and all of the fans deserved was far from possible.”
Boss Brewing director Sarah John also looked back the knock-on effects of her Swansea-based brewery making national headlines due to its “David versus Goliath clash with the corporate giant Hugo Boss” and finding an unlikely ally in comedian Joe Lycett.
“This has been a great source of empowerment and determination for me going into Covid and all of the challenges it has thrown our way – because if we can get through a battle with a real-life Goliath, we can get through most things,” she wrote.
Unlikely tales of triumph
And yet, the past 12 months have also yielded some left-field success stories from the pub sector.
Great British Pub Award-winning operator Emily Kolltveit of north London pub the Chandos Arms for example relived her path to being ordained in a socially distanced service at St Paul’s Cathedral and becoming curate of St Mary‘s Anglican Church in Primrose Hill in 2020.
“My career path has been varied – heavy-metal singer, Mediaeval Baebe, publican and now ordained Anglican Deacon,” she wrote.
“My role at St Mary‘s is wonderfully apt as in our crypt we house St Mary‘s Brewery, an enterprise dedicated to brewing great beer, building community and raising funds and awareness for a very important project that supports young people who are vulnerable to knife and gang crime.”
Finally, operator Mark Bates of the Three B’s Micropub in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, looked back on launching a pub unable to open in the throes of nationwide lockdown in April after having planning approved by a virtual council meeting.
“As a new business this was incredibly hard at first. It is hard enough for any start up to gain a customer base, but even harder when it was not trading as intended,” he said.
“However, trade did pick up especially when the ban was lifted on travel meaning some additional trade from the many day trippers to the coast.”
Further reading: How has 2020 changed people and pubs?
Read more about the personal battles and success stories pub operators faced during 2020 here:
GBPA winner swaps pints for the pulpit – According to Great British Pub Award-winning operator turned ordained Anglican Deacon, Emily Kolltveit, 2020 has been ‘an extraordinary year of highs and lows’. Here she explains how she’s adapted to a new style of service.
‘We spent more than £100k to trade for 6 hours’ – 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.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.