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Pubs forced to turn away customers even though they are half empty

PUBLISHED: 08:51 28 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 28 July 2020

Terry Hughes, one of the partners at the Belgian Monk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Terry Hughes, one of the partners at the Belgian Monk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Publicans in Norwich say they are losing too many customers because of the new coronavirus guidelines.

James Linder, who runs The Eagle pub on Newmarket Road in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLYJames Linder, who runs The Eagle pub on Newmarket Road in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Pub owners are having to turn punters away, especially at peak times including weekends, because they are full to the new capacity imposed – yet in fact are half empty.

And many are saying the future is uncertain as running pubs with full staff but half the customers is not viable.

James Linder, who runs the Eagle in Newmarket Road, which has a large garden, said they lost a huge amount of custom on Saturday night when it rained.

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Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNDawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“We had a very promising week and we are trying to be upbeat,” he said. “Customer confidence is coming back but we’ve lost all our events over the summer which were our bread and butter, landlords charged us rent throughout lockdown and the gas and electricity companies hounded us so the government support we had went to the people who didn’t really need it. We have started on a back foot.

“We are ‘fully booked’ Thursday-Sunday but we are at half capacity and we can’t open upstairs because we’ve had to store all the furniture from downstairs. But if a pub like us can’t survive, it is worrying,

“Before we opened, a group of pub owners bound together and we said if we are going down, we won’t go down without a fight.

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“We can’t let the pub trade disappear, it’s part of Norwich’s heritage and important for the community and people’s jobs.”

Terry Hughes, one of the partners who runs the Belgian Monk in Norwich said when he was ‘full’ now, it was around 60% of pre coronavirus numbers. He too is battling against the weather because when it rains, it removes all his courtyard tables.

“We are finding a lot of couples booking tables, so we have twos on tables for four so we are losing customers like that, too,” he added “We don’t see the office crowds now from 5-7pm and everyone wants to eat at 6.45-8.30 and then it’s like there’s a curfew, and there’s no one in Norwich city centre, the streets are empty.”

Dawn Hopkins, landlady at the Rose, Norwich, said: “At some point all our tables are booked, I’ve got eight tables inside, so around 26 covers, I’ve lost 20 seats. You have to turn away someone because they can’t stand at the bar and wait but in 20 mins there is a table free.”​


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