How is pub coping a year after getting no customers?
- Credit: The Fox at Lyng/Matt Sturman Photography
A year ago, the landlady of the The Fox at Lyng decided to mothball the business because of a lack of punters.
Victoria Hunt made the tough decision in December 2020 after posting a heartbreaking video on social media showing her deserted pub - during the usually-busy pre-Christmas period.
When Mrs Hunt and her husband, Gavin, temporarily called last orders, Norfolk was in the grip of Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions, meaning alcohol was only permitted with "substantial meals" and households could not mix indoors.
But 12 months on - and despite ongoing uncertainty over Covid - The Fox is bustling once again.
Mrs Hunt said the pub had enjoyed a successful 12 months, including a solid festive season and its "busiest summer ever".
Reflecting on a tough period, Mrs Hunt said: "Single-household dining was incredibly frustrating. What should have been a really busy month was absolutely awful.
"December is always busy and it is because of parties and groups. You don't really get many couples coming out to eat.
"You can understand why the households rule came in but, from a hospitality point of view, it knocked out so many bookings. It was a complete killer.
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"The Friday before that Christmas, there was pretty much no-one in the pub. Normally it would have been rammed.
"We made the decision we could not continue operating in that tier. As it happens, pubs got locked down again anyway from the Boxing Day (when Norfolk moved into Tier 4)."
The Fox stayed shut for four months, during which time Mr and Mrs Hunt chose not to provide takeaways as it "would not have been viable".
Pints were being finally being poured again in April, when pubs were allowed to open their outdoor spaces.
A year on from a challenging time for the whole industry, fortunes have undoubtedly improved for the couple, who also run The Lodge in North Tuddenham.
"When it comes to this December, we cannot really grumble," added Mrs Hunt.
"We were really busy at both pubs. It was basically like a normal Christmas, and I genuinely believe it's because we maintained quite strict Covid rules.
"The Lodge in particular did really well with group bookings. We weren't quite as busy at The Fox, but it is further out from Dereham and Norwich.
"We had lots and lots of tourists coming into The Fox over the summer. It was probably the busiest summer we have ever had."