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'People are just not eating out' - village pub and restaurant to close

PUBLISHED: 07:13 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:00 17 January 2020

The Inn On The Green in New Buckenham is set to close at the end of March. Pictured: owners Julie Derges and David Francis. Picture: Sonya Duncan

The Inn On The Green in New Buckenham is set to close at the end of March. Pictured: owners Julie Derges and David Francis. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015

The owner of a country pub and restaurant has said a downturn in trade and the rise of takeaways has left him no choice but to wind down and close.

The Inn On The Green in New Buckenham, which is set to close at the end of March. Picture: Sonya DuncanThe Inn On The Green in New Buckenham, which is set to close at the end of March. Picture: Sonya Duncan

David Francis, who has run the Inn on the Green in New Buckenham since 2011, has lodged a bid to build a home on the pub car park, indicating in papers that the business will close at the end of March.

He says that a rapid decline in trade has left the business unsustainable and that it had become a "special occasions only" type venue for all but a very select few regular customers.

Mr Francis said: "We've not really been a pub for four years - trade has gone down and down and I'm now in my seventies so it is time to retire.

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"In December alone we had just 17 people come in just for drinks - and 10 of them were the same group of five people twice."

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However, Mr Francis said it is not just a downturn in the number of drinkers using the venue that has hurt him - it is a decline in the number of diners as well, particularly with the restaurant side of the business being the main focus in recent years.

He said: "Our business has just gone down and down. Four years or so ago we were doing 450 covers a week - now we are lucky to have 250 on a good week.

"People are just not eating out as much any more. You look at the businesses that are doing well and it is companies like Greggs, Deliveroo and McDonalds. People are having takeaways more often and not dining out.

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"I think people are starting to see us nowadays as a special occasions only venue - birthdays, anniversaries and so on. That just isn't enough.

"If you take into account our overheads my own wage probably only works out at about £2.80 per hour. When we started we made a good living, but not any more.

"The business has been on the market for two years with two different agents and I've had no real interest. I'm still open for offers, but at the same time, people have had two years."

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