'Positive mindset' for 2022 after pub's 'very good' festive trade

Heather Warren, of Oakes Barn pub in Bury in Bury St Edmunds

Heather Warren, of Oakes Barn pub in Bury in Bury St Edmunds, has a positive mindset going into 2022, after successful festive trading - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A pub owner has said Christmas and New Year week takings have been "very, very good" in contrast with fears Covid would hammer hospitality businesses.

In the build-up to Christmas, concerns over the Omicron variant saw some venues lose bookings, with one Suffolk landlord missing out on an estimated £90,000 in takings in just a few days.

Heather Warren, owner of Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds, said her head "was spinning" once Wales and Scotland stated their new Covid rules, but "thankfully" there were no further restrictions placed on hospitality in England.

She said she has been pleasantly surprised over how good business has been.

Heather Warren is pictured at Oakes Barn in Bury.

Heather Warren is pictured at Oakes Barn in Bury St Edmunds - Credit: Archant

New Year's Eve was busy, as was the whole week, she said.

"We have had a very, very good Christmas and New Year week," she said. "We did have some cancellations, but we have actually had spots filled and others have deferred, which we are very grateful for.

"I have got quite a positive mindset going into 2022. The show goes on. Hospitality matters. People do want to go out."

She said she "could not praise customers enough" for being responsible to try and keep staff safe as well as themselves.

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While face masks are not mandatory, patrons have been wearing them, and the pub has Covid guidance in place such as hand sanitiser.

Oakes Barn pub in Bury in Bury St Edmunds

Heather Warren, owner of Oakes Barn, praised patrons for keeping staff and themselves safe - Credit: Archant

Mrs Warren added: "Our customers have been wonderful and self-disciplined in relation to Covid, which has been a positive for us, and they have kept supporting us and enjoyed the festive period, which we whole-heartedly thank them for. It also has given me a positive mindset.  

"For example, if no tables were available, they have simply gone elsewhere or returned later. Lots of groups have sat outside and have utilised our lounge for additional seating."

She said they had absorbed some trade from other hospitality businesses that had to close completely or shut their kitchens due to staff members with Covid, including taking in a group of 23 on December 31.

Mrs Warren, who was a nurse for 25 years, said there was a glimmer of hope in terms of the pandemic, adding: "It is feeling better. It's feeling different to last year."

In the New Year, Oakes Barn will be adjusting its opening hours so it closes slightly earlier, to match a shift in customer habits.

She added: "As a business we are remaining positive. We are making plans for January with sit-down events where we can manage groups.

"It's so easy to be negative and I have been. But hospitality matters, mental health matters."

The pub closed at 8pm on New Year's Eve and was closed on New Year's Day.

Gareth Harper, owner of Bar Twenty One, in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich

Gareth Harper, owner of Bar Twenty One, in St Nicholas Street, Ipswich - Credit: Charlotte Bond/Archant

The feeling of positivity was shared by Gareth Harper, of Bar Twenty One in Ipswich.

The owner said: “Last night felt like somewhere in between a Friday and Saturday night trade.  

“Speaking to other venues it seemed like it was like that at most places – but that’s understandable with how things are at the moment. 

“To be trading across Christmas where most venues couldn't last year makes you appreciate just being open and being able to play a part in helping people have a good Christmas.”