“We’ve done so many great things over the years and won so many accolades – if a pub which has done so well can’t survive, how can the others?” - Ratcatchers landlord tells of pub closure
A long-established village pub which has been at the heart of its community is set to close its doors this weekend.
The Ratcatchers Inn, in Eastgate, Cawston, near Aylsham, will close on Sunday at 3pm.
Landlord Peter McCarter blamed tough trading conditions, cheap alcohol at supermarkets and the increased VAT rate of 20 per cent, which the government introduced at the start of the year, for the closure of the award-winning pub.
The 61-year-old, who first started to work at the Ratcatchers 25 years ago and took it over 14 years ago, said: 'It's the biggest heartbreak of my life that I've got to close my business on Sunday afternoon.
'I feel I've let down my family, staff and customers. I've built up such a great relationship with my customers and it fills me with dread telling them that it's closing. There's been a lot of tears this week.'
Known locally as the Rat's, the traditional pub has been well known for its home-cooked food and, just last year, was named as a finalist in the Publican magazine's customer service pub of the year.
The pub, which dates back to the late 1800s, also won the Ebex Taste of England Challenge in 2010. Chef Chris Tortice, who received the Ebex award, was also a runner up in the Publican's Chef of the Year award.
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Over the years, Mr McCarter has tried a number of strategies to keep his business going including quizzes, themed evenings and charity events.
The closure will see 18 members of staff, six of whom are full time, lose their jobs. Mr McCarter will also lose his home.
'It's not just a pub, it's where you go to meet, have a nice meal and it's part of the community. We've had some fabulous times over the years and I've tried my hardest. I'm drained now,' said the former scaffolder, who runs the pub on his own. 'We've done so many great things over the years and won so many accolades – if a pub which has done so well can't survive, how can the others?'