Landlady warns ‘there could be no pubs left’ if we don’t support them now

Owners of The Swan Inn in Monks Eleigh, Stephen and Julie Penney, are concerned about the future of

Owners of The Swan Inn in Monks Eleigh, Stephen and Julie Penney, are concerned about the future of the pub industry. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK CAMRA - Credit: WEST SUFFOLK CAMRA

The owner of a village pub in Monks Eleigh has warned there will be no pubs to return to if customers don’t support them when they need it most.

The Swan, Monks Eleigh

The Swan, Monks Eleigh - Credit: Archant

The Swan Inn has become the “home and livelihood” for partners Julie and Stephen Penney, who took over the pub in September 2018 using their redundancy money.

Now, they are fearful for its future and said the impact of coronavirus could be “catastrophic” for the pub – which they were planning to have a long future with.

Julie said: “The Saturday that we reopened was encouraging, with a steady stream of people initially.

“However, Sunday was quiet, then so was Monday, Tuesday and all through to Friday night, where at 7.20pm we didn’t even have a single person in the pub.”

Julie said that Friday’s are traditionally the pub’s biggest night of the week, so the empty room “sent alarm bells ringing”.

“We are down 50% on trade and we were not running at huge profits beforehand. This is extremely worrying for us and it’s a really scary time for the whole pub industry,” she said.

MORE: Historic pub closes after coronavirus makes it ‘unviable’ – with fears more could followJulie was “optimistic” and hopeful the trade would pick up, but instead feels that many people are choosing not to return just yet.

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She said: “Everyone was so desperate for the pubs to reopen, but where are they now?

“I’m worried that by the time people feel confident enough to return, there will be no pubs left to return to.”

Julie said she is trying to instil confidence in people and reassure them that they do take the safety of staff and customers seriously – and it is safe for them to visit.

She said many regulars who have returned to the pub said it was “not as scary as they thought it would be” and she doesn’t understand how people feel safe to go to the supermarkets, but not the pubs.

“The pubs are one of the safest places you can go,” explained Julie. “We have had months to gear up for this, putting all the correct measures in place.”

The Swan Inn dates back to the 14th century and boasts a “fantastic sun terrace”, which Julie is hopeful will start to attract customers as she says it is vital they can get their business going.

She said she fears a lot of pubs won’t survive, but is hopeful they can get back on their feet.

“Help us now when we need it the most so our business can survive for when you feel safe to come back,” said Julie.

“You could purchase a gift card for a few months down the line, or just pop in for a pint and a sandwich and help give us a moral boost.”

The government has said it will help the hospitality industry by reducing VAT from 20% to 5% for six months and by offering diners a discount of up to £10 per head at eligible restaurants.