With 2020 being engulfed by a global pandemic, it’s been a difficult year for everyone at one time or another.
Many have fallen ill or experienced tragedy, families have been separated, businesses closed, major achievements have passed us by without an appropriate celebration or so many have been cancelled altogether.
The health and safety of our staff and customers at the Sandon is as always paramount and when lockdown was announced in March, we adhered to all Government guidelines and closed our doors.
Little did we know that this would see the complex, which is home to nine bars, seven function suits and a 130-bed hotel, close until September before shutting again just weeks later.
The lights are still off, and the doors currently remain closed.
This year should have been one to go down in history at the Sandon.
I had made huge plans to celebrate what would be a monumental occasion should Liverpool go on and win the Premier League title after 30 long years – and of course they did.
The Sandon is the birthplace of Liverpool Football Club; it’s where it all began and where the contracts were signed to create the club back in 1892.
The complex is just a stone’s throw from the club’s home at Anfield and we’re part of many of the season ticket holder’s visits – they’re regulars and like part of the Sandon’s furniture as we see them almost every week.
Being forced to close our doors back in March was nothing short of devastating.
Since taking over the complex back in 2017, and in all my years as an entrepreneur, I’ve never experienced anything so heart-breaking in business – I felt powerless.
At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was anxious, frightened, worried and confused. We knew nothing.
Putting on a brave face for my staff was incredibly difficult but I’m very determined and never go down without a fight. I pledged to support them and not make anyone redundant and I stuck to my promise.
Emotionally, shutting the doors was draining but also financially. We’d had no idea that we wouldn’t be trading and had barrels and barrels of beer, as well as wines, spirits, soft drinks and snacks without a reopening date in sight.
Weeks passed and as football was allowed to commence, I knew that there was a great chance that Liverpool would scoop the title and become Premier League champions – they’re the best in the world.
As June approached, they lifted the cup and I was absolutely ecstatic. 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.
Being shut during that time was heart-wrenching but of course, totally out of my hands. Usually, the Sandon would be brimming with people from door to door celebrating but that night, it remained soulless.
When July came, and the hospitality industry was given the green light to reopen, I knew there was nothing to celebrate at the Sandon. We’re very much a match day pub and as an official hospitality partner to Liverpool Football Club, that’s what we do best.
I kept the doors closed until September when we reopened, fully Covid-safe having spent thousands on personal protective equipment and the new guidelines with the addition of a full food menu, only to be told the following day that Liverpool had new restrictions and there was no mixing indoors unless it was with your own household.
I gave it my all and remained open for a month to give my staff their jobs and try to keep morale up, before Liverpool was plunged into tier three restrictions and I was forced to shut my doors once again.
I’ve remained closed ever since.
At this point, reflecting on 2020 is really hard. I’m hopeful for the future and for the vaccine to provide some sort of normality for the UK.
Here’s hoping 2021 is more positive for everyone.