Pub landlord: ‘We’ve taught ourselves how to run a completely different business’
PUBLISHED: 12:48 25 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:34 26 April 2020
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015
As Terry Gillman pauses to chat, he temporarily lays down his trusty potato peeler.
The pub landlord is in the middle of preparing roast dinners ahead of a busy Sunday lunch service, which will see meals delivered piping hot to people’s doors.
Like hundreds of businesses across Norfolk, The Black Horse, in Thetford, has been forced to adapt to unprecedented circumstances as punters adjust to lockdown life amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After all pubs and restaurants were ordered to close last month, Mr Gillman and his wife, Pam, were left with little option but to furlough all staff, aside from one chef.
But, determined to continue serving their community, they hatched a plan to transform the business into a takeaway service.
The experience, according to Mr Gillman, has been a learning curve, to say the least.
He said: “When the lockdown came in we sat down and said ‘this is what we’ll have to do to survive’ - it all happened very quickly.
“We have had to teach ourselves how to run a completely different business and we had no idea what kind of response we were going to get.”
The response has, however, been emphatic, with dozens of meals ordered every day by customers in Thetford and the surrounding area.
“We’re snowed under with orders but we are not actually making any money,” added Mr Gillman. “On the plus side we are not getting in debt either.
“Our restaurant looks like a warehouse and we’ve had to work out the best procedures to make things work. Sourcing takeaway containers has been a struggle - something we’ve never faced before - and we’re changing our menu on a daily basis.
“We’ll continue doing this for as long as necessary to come out with a business on the other side.”
Mr Gillman has been responsible for the delivery side of the service, ensuring he adheres to social distancing rules by leaving meals on customers’ doorsteps.
In celebration of St George’s Day, he even dressed up as England’s patron saint to raise spirits.
“This is keeping us in touch with our regulars,” said Mr Gillman. “They can’t come to the pub, so the pub comes to them.
“Some are on their own so I’ve been calling to make sure they’re okay. We are doing what we can.”
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