A STROUD pub owner who weathered a wave of cancellations over Christmas says that our pub-going habits are changing.
Nicholas Beardsley, owner of the Old Lodge in Minchinhampton and the Fleece in Woodchester, said that his business saw over 1,000 cancellations in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“We had in excess of 1,000 cancellations after December 1, according to information from our on-line booking platform,” he said.
“Even on Christmas Day, we had a few tables left, which is unusual.”
However, despite the dramatic loss of business, Mr Beardsley said he had noticed an increase in a different type of booking.
“We’ve seen the cancellation of large parties,” he said.
“But we’ve also seen an increase in smaller informal gatherings of friends and work colleagues.
“Like many other places, we have got outdoor and covered spaces now, and we’ve seen lots of use of our well ventilated marquee positioned at the front of the Old Fleece.
“Habits are changing and we’re also seeing people meeting outside in the gardens of the Old Lodge and at the well spaced tables in the Old Lodge restaurant.
“People are starting to think ‘maybe I can still meet up with my friends, but in a safer way’.
“And it may not be that guests do a full dinner, but they might meet up with the kids and the dogs and sit in the garden, if the weather’s ok, or wear some ski wear.
“We realise we have to live with Covid for now and it will keep doing its thing for a while. And we all just need adapt our habits a bit.”
Mr Beardsley said that at the end of the last lockdown he was given a strong reminder of the joy of interaction that hospitality businesses facilitate, and why their continuation is so important.
“When we opened after the last lockdown and I was walking up to the Fleece, I heard – for the first time in ages – the sound of people laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
“It was a beautiful thing. And I thought – ‘that’s what we do’.”