Updated: Mar 28, 2020
Friday, March 20th, 17:49
So after hearing the news from Boris that we were to shut, I get a text from Warren alerting me that we need to shut immediately.
I then dropped what I was doing headed over to the pub. I pulled up to the car park and notice an abundance of cars. Hang about, weren't we closed? As we had no bookings for that evening, I was somewhat bemused. As I entered the pub with Beaker in tow, the pub was noisy, bustling with people eating and drinking. Not sure if it was a coincidence, but the announcement by Boris seemed to spur people to have a last hurrah. We did however keep to our stringent rules on Social Distancing.
It turned out to be an emotional night, knowing that if they come to the pub the next day, we would have to deny them entry. We said our goodbyes from a distance, did our usual close down procedure, and cleaned up. As we locked the pub to head home, the weight of the news still hadn't sunk in, as I was secretly happy that I didn't have to do breakfast the next morning and we can have a lie in.
Saturday, March 21st
We always knew that we needed to provide a takeaway service if and when the pub is to close to contain COVID-19. We just didn't anticipate it to be needed this quickly, which meant we hadn't planned anything in terms of online systems, menus and processes. What we did know, was that the pub was perfect for a drive-thru. It had a front drive leading to the door, and we joked that we could put a walkie-talkie on a stick, shoved onto the grass verge and customers can place their order at window 1, pay at window number 2 and collect their food from window number 3. But instead of 3 people, it'll just be Elliot running between the 3. I then remembered this picture I took when the Bentley Car club came to visit. Perfect I thought. Advert done, all channels posted.
Back to reality. We needed an online system where customers can order from and pay. So from 8am till 4pm that day, I sat at my desk and started to created such a system.
By 4:15, we had a live system, capable of taking online orders, online payments that even allowed customers to select collection time or delivery time. It was quite comprehensive too: food, wine, beer, and even loo roll.
I was rather chuffed with myself to be fair, so I rolled up at the pub at 5pm, beaming with a smile from ear to ear to announce my achievements, kinda of expecting an applause if I was absolutely honest with you . I showed the team how to use it and how it could even take phone orders. I even got it working on the Computer in the pub, one built when dinosaurs ruled the world. Nothing could stop me now.
The phone rang.
"I just tried to put an order and it doesn't work" a lady says to me. I then assumed like all IT people do, that it's the fault of the operator and not the programmer. I go through the steps with her until we reach the address field. For those of you who know Oddington, know that the main road doesn't have a name (check it out on Google Maps) nor does it have house numbers. So putting the house name followed by Oddington is not sufficient for the system to calculate if it's within our 8km (around 5 miles in old money), so it simply halts the process. Arse! I said to myself. How do we get round this? We can't as it now transpires.
So the first online order was by phone, so was the 2nd and the third. Only the 4th order was possible because they had a road name and a house number. Only in the Cotswolds I thought! As Saturday night came to a close, we managed to do around 11 orders which was quite impressive I thought considering 24 hours ago, we didn't have a menu nor a system for taking orders, and had customers in the pub.
This is how fast the COVID-19 Pandemic is moving, and we're having to move just as fast just to keep up and to ensure customers are safe.
At the end of the night, we put up signs on the front door to warn people that we had closed.
This is when it sunk in. The pub is now closed to customers. The sound of laughter, chatter, moving chairs and even customers dropping cutlery will no longer be heard for the foreseeable future. This brought a shed of tear to both Warren and I. We got home to reflect our days work and see what else we could possible do to help this wonderful community.