Coronavirus: Bar and distillery owner remortgages property to pay staff
A bar and distillery owner has remortgaged one of his properties to keep paying staff as coronavirus forces closures.
Russell Evans has been running the Ten Bells, in St Benedicts Street, Norwich, for the past three years.
With six other sites, including Bullards Distillery, all closed or reduced, he has seen a substantial drop in income but has committed to paying his staff.
The 58-year-old said: “I have to pay the wages with no income coming in.
“I’m going to keep all my staff on and pay them and to do that I’ve used my own personal money and remortgaged a property to get some cash out so I could to keep us ticking over. I have a responsibilty to these people as my extended family.
“I run a gin distillery - we are ticking over as we are making sanitiser. I have some online sales with our delivery pouches arriving at people’s doors with no human contact but apart from that all income has disappeared.”
The move comes as JD Wetherspoon has left staff without pay until a new scheme is arranged with the government.
Mr Evans said the government has not been in contact about the pay scheme but called on Wetherspoons’ owner, Tim Martin, to support his staff.
He added: “We are in a similar predicament as Mr Martin albeit his is bigger, but the government has pledged to support but we don’t know what that means in real terms and whether we’ll get the cash: the government hasn’t told us anything.
“It’s a promise, but promises don’t pay the bills.
“Our staff have done nothing wrong, have bills to pay and need to live. We will support them where we can until we get the money from the government to supplement the 80pc.”
He added: “Our view is we are paying every Friday until we find out how the government is supporting. Mr Martin can do that or use his cash to fund the gap from where he is now until the government funding arrives.
“People go to Wetherspoons to drink because it is cheap. I hope later when it all comes back their customers remember this – it’s cheap but there’s a price to pay.”