"It has been a massive step back" Micropub owner sells motorbikes to keep hard hit business running

As larger pubs and restaurants prepare to open, micro pubs in Lancashire face different concerns over the decision to reopen their doors.

By James Holt
Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 1:19 pm

Raymond McLaughlin, an ex-bouncer and owner of micro pub Lostock Ale, off Jubilee Road, said that the Coronavirus lockdown has been a "step back" for his business, which opened in January this year.

The pub, which offers a range of real ales to a niche audience, had only been open for eight weeks when the lockdown announcement was made.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement on Friday, March 20, that pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities had to close their doors for the foreseeable future.

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Raymond McLaughlin, an ex-bouncer and owner of micro pub Lostock Ale.

"It surprised me how quickly they announced the closures. Like other restaurants and pubs, I had fresh stock delivered on that day ready for Mothers day on the following Sunday and had anticipated for the bank holidays," said Raymond.

"We were really hit hard by the lockdown, and missed major UK holidays and celebrations so it felt like a massive step back, especially for smaller businesses like myself."

The announcement of the lockdown, imposed because of the spreading Covid-19 pandemic, meant that Raymond has been left with 580 litres of stock, equating to almost 1,000 pints, which is now out of date and unable to be served to guests.

Being an independent trader unlike many other larger chain pubs, Raymond is keen to open his business again on July 4 and will be controlling the virus with measures where possible.

Raymond is keen to open his business again on July 4 and will be controlling the virus with measures where possible.

"The only thing that kept me going was how much of a success we were in the short weeks we were open before the lockdown. We served the community and brought them together. We did well then and we will do well again in the future," he said.

"The money from the Government doesn't go a long way because no one had a crystal ball to tell us how long this would keep us closed for. I have even had to sell my motorbikes now to make sure I have the money to keep us running.

"I have taken the decision to re-open with other pubs and restaurants on July 4. I plan to class groups of people that have been living together throughout lockdown as a singular person, and keep groups the minimum of one metre apart to meet with social distancing guidelines.

"We cater for a niche audience and those appreciate good brewed ales with lots of flavours. There's never been a better time for drinking and socialising, as businesses like mine offer a world of choice for our customers. There's a light at the end of the tunnel now to prepare to reopen."

Raymond was left with 580 litres of stock, equating to almost 1,000 pints,which is now out of date and unable to be served to guests.

In his plan to open his doors, Raymond will also provide hand sanitisers, black and yellow ground markings to ensure customers keep socially distanced, and a waiter service to prevent people from congregating at the bar.

Elsewhere in Preston, Tom Jackson, owner of Applejacks micro pub, made the decision to remain closed, as he deemed it "too risky" to expect customers to socially distance in the premises.

"We are waiting to see what impact the lockdown restrictions have on bigger pubs as we fear we could loose our licence if we don't operate under the right restrictions," he said.

"We had no indication that we would have to close before the announcement was made, but still don't feel it would be safe to do so because our capacity is only 30 people normally, so it would not be feasible."

Applejacks Microbar took the decision to remain closed.

The announcement of the lockdown saw Tom forced to pour £1,200 of beer down the drain at his micro pub, on Berry Lane, Preston.

"We are hoping to open by the end of July along with nightclubs, because it isn't possible to socially distance there," said Tom.

"It doesn't make sense for us to open because we could only have small numbers in our pub. Our expenditure is high, with the cost of heating and our large fridges, so it would not be viable."

Pubs across the country were informed they could re-open from July 4 in an announcement on Tuesday, but would have to adhere to strict guidelines to protect customers from Coronavirus.

Measurements included socially distancing, wearing masks and making orders and payments from their mobile phones.