As I write today's blog it is day 38 since we closed the pub to customers and became a takeaway/ delivery only service. 38 days since Boris Johnson ordered pubs/ restaurants, theatres, cinemas and other 'non-essential' businesses to close to reduce the risks to society of uncontrolled spread of Covid-19 infection. Of course this was unquestionably the right thing to do! I have no doubt that lives will have been saved as a result.
History will judge whether businesses like ours were closed early enough. From a very early stage in this crisis I've had eyes on both the public health impact (as a health professor), and also on the very real and immediate economic impact of the consequences of closing businesses like ours. I have never been in any doubt that the right thing to do to limit viral load on the population includes closure of hospitality businesses. However, as a hospitality business owner this realisation weighed heavy.
Even as a self-affirmed optimist, I don't mind admitting that at the beginning of the lock down, I doubted our pub's ability to survive the closure. Pubs rely on footfall for their success. People breathe life into pubs, without them they die and fast. Pubs burn cash!
As we 'pivoted' the Horse & Groom to provide take away and delivery food, groceries and fruit/ veg, our primary aim was to use the pub as a means of supporting our great local community - who have in turn supported us. Our community has come together in an amazing act of selfless collective-preservation.
We've received fabulous support from friends further afield - most notably from many of our suppliers. From breweries who on hearing of our efforts to keep going donated casks of ale and promised to keep on delivering beer to us for as long as we needed it, to our food suppliers who have gone out of their way to keep our twice-weekly fresh food deliveries going. Our fabulous wine merchant (known by many of you as, Stan, through our wine and food matching evenings) who gave great initial advice on storing our wines and has kept in touch with regular email updates, links and advice. Our online travel agent partners who have helped re-book, refund or cancel our room guests. We are so grateful for such great suppliers!
Running a pub such as ours is really a team effort. More than the great team of staff we have on site, but a much wider team that includes brewers, food producers, farmers, dairies, drivers, market workers, butchers, bakers, packaging manufacturers, printers, online agents. Not only helping us to keep our pub alive, but directly helping us to support our community.
When I'm stood outside the front of the pub at 8pm this Thursday evening, I'm clapping for our fantastic NHS staff, amazing social carers, for our great police, fire and ambulance services, but I'm also clapping for them! For a hidden army of suppliers and services keeping our industry alive when we're most in need. I might clap longer than most. I've many to thank...