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‘A slap in the face’: pub’s survival fight as curfew halves trade

PUBLISHED: 15:48 07 October 2020

Tony Parker and ZsuZsanna Toth outside the Swan Hotel, in Downham Market  Picture: Chris Bishop

Tony Parker and ZsuZsanna Toth outside the Swan Hotel, in Downham Market Picture: Chris Bishop

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A Norfolk pub landlord is remaining hopeful his business will survive this period despite suffering a “dramatic” decrease in takings following the introduction of the 10pm curfew.

Tony Parker, landlord of The Swan Hotel in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah HussainTony Parker, landlord of The Swan Hotel in Downham Market. Picture: Sarah Hussain

Tony Parker, who runs The Swan Hotel in Downham Market with the help of ZsuZsanna Toth, said the new restriction had adversely affected the industry and called on the government to help get people in the hospitality business back on their feet “as quickly as possible”.

The 43-year-old, who took over the High Street pub in September 2019, said business had been going well in the first week of reopening in August, with people “adapting well” to the restrictions.

But he said the 10pm curfew had created further challenges for the industry and had resulted in him losing 60pc of customers and 50pc of takings from last Friday and Saturday.

He said: “The majority of money comes from 9pm anyway so it’s knocked us on our head. It’s an inconvenience and it’s unfair.

“We’re dramatically down on takings but we’re hoping to come back stronger than we were before. We can’t do the functions that we used to do and at least 10 to 12 seats have been taken out for social distancing.

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“Christmas and New Year has gone and January and February is usually the worst few months, but we’ll have to ride it out.”

Mr Parker said he was not concerned about customer habits changing as he said he was still receiving support from local people.

He added: “People will naturally socialise so if all the pubs shut again you can’t change that. But it’s a crying shame you have to turn people away because we don’t have the capacity.

“We were going in the right direction and then this happened. It’s a slap in the face. All the 10pm curfew is doing is driving people into doing things from their houses.

“The country’s on its knees now, if they carry on we won’t be able to get back up again.

“I can survive but will see how it does, it depends on how much I’m losing and then I’ll have to reevaluate.”


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