The pub owner, crowned UK’s best in a new consumer guide, has warned he is facing the “worst December” of his 21 years in management due to the pandemic.
Ben Jones of The Olive Branch – a rural gourmet pub in Clipsham, Rutland, said it would likely survive due to its popularity as a foodie destination, but many of its neighboring pubs “get wet” – serving only food. alcohol – were now faced with the last orders.
“We installed the Christmas decorations and set up five outdoor kiosks with cozy blankets and faux log burners to accommodate smaller groups of up to six,” said Jones, CEO and co-founder pub in England’s smallest county.
“But we have had to give up Christmas menus for large groups and we think the activity will drop by around 20% compared to a normal year. We had planned to celebrate our 21st birthday this month, but it will be our worst month of December.
The Olive Branch – which was named this week’s pub of the year in the Good Pub Guide 2021 and which has already attracted many major industry awards including the same title in 2014 – had been the victim of a year of ” roller coaster “since the closure of all pubs, restaurants, bars and cafes in March, Jones said.
“Due to illogical government restrictions on killing pubs, we will not be able to safely celebrate our anniversary with locals and villagers,” he said. “A pub is the whole experience – the beer, the wine, the food and the atmosphere. Pubs are amazing places. But at the moment, due to restrictions, we are not really a pub. We cannot accommodate everything; we are not able to have drinks and local gossip at the bar. Many others less fortunate than us will not. “
The pub, which also has bedrooms, was hailed by the guide as being ‘on top of its game’, attracting visitors from all over and enjoying strong local support. But in a grim assessment of the sector as a whole, pubs were now facing their ‘darkest moments’ amid continued restrictions, lockdowns, closures and job losses, editor-in-chief Fiona Stapley warned. in the foreword to the Good Pub Guide 2021.
Representatives of Thousands of Entries have described this year as a “total nightmare” after working hard to reopen after the initial lockdown, only to be ordered to close again. The 992-page guide, which has 5,000 regional listings, was printed just as the last 3 3 system for England was announced.
“Although tired of the battle and worried about keeping their businesses running, I’m happy to say that these courageous and amazing people still have a little silver lining,” Stapley writes.
“Everyone knows that the road to 2021, or until a vaccine is widely available, will be terribly difficult, but they believe that if they can work together with loyal customers, local suppliers, a useful bank and a lot of energy and luck, many will survive. “
Among other accolades, The Unruly Pig near Woodbridge in Suffolk – which reopened seven days a week – was named Gastro Pub of the Year for its ambiance and ‘Britalian’ cuisine – English classics with an Italian twist . The boat in Erbistock, Wrexham, was crowned Best New Pub and The Fat Cat in Norwich Beer Pub of the Year. The Cholmondeley Arms in Malpas, Cheshire has chosen the best gin pub for the second year in a row for their mouthwatering array of 366 herbs – one for each day of the year.
The British Beer and Pub Association, meanwhile, reported that beer sales in all pubs across the UK last weekend were down 84% from the same period last year, with less of half opening their doors.
“These numbers illustrate the perilous situation our pubs find themselves in this Christmas,” said BBPA Executive Director Emma McClarkin.
“Christmas should be a time when we can enjoy each other’s company in the pub around a hot fire and with a cool pint in hand. Unfortunately, Christmas will not be the same this year without our pubs being able to open properly. The new restrictions remove the stuffing from our Christmas business. It really is madness when you consider that cinemas, theaters and sports halls can still open and serve alcohol.