Sheffield pubs 'repositioning' as restaurants this weekend as 'only chance of survival' under Tier 3 restrictions

Pubs in Sheffield are preparing to reopen as restaurants this weekend, saying it is their ‘only chance of survival’ under Tier 3 restrictions.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 11:14 am

The new ‘very high’ lockdown rules, which come into effect at 00:01am on Saturday, October 24, force bars and pubs not serving ‘substantial meals’ to shut.

People from different households will also now be prevented from mixing outdoors in private gardens and most public settings.

Paul Foster, who runs The Red Lion on Penistone Road in Grenoside and The Norfolk Arms in Chapeltown, will be ‘repositioning’ his two Sheffield pubs to operate as restaurants from Saturday.

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Sheffield pub director Paul Foster is repositioning his two businesses to reopen as restaurants in line with the new Tier 3 restrictions

The traditional pubs which already serve British classics will be expanding their food offerings and debuting a new ‘bar menu’ with dishes such as jacket potato and pizza to appeal to customers that would normally come in just to drink.

The 36-year-old director, who employs 30 people, said he had been anticipating harsher lockdown rules for the last two weeks and made plans to expand their menu around the new measures.

“We are anticipating a huge drop now in our drinking market”, Paul said.

"These people are going to be predominantly driven into our pubs for drinks so they are not wanting big, heavy meals if they are having a few drinks kind of thing.

The director warns that more needs to be done to support bars and pubs that are forced to close.

"It is still going to be a substantial meal but it's enabling them not to feel that bloating feeling that you would get in a restaurant.

"It is like a second tier menu that we are putting on.

"It is the only way we are going to survive by repositioning ourselves.”

Paul’s pubs lost around £6,000 a week in revenue when the national lockdown was introduced back in March and he fears his businesses could lose even more this time around.

"People need a reason to come out at this time of year and at the moment they have every reason not to come out,” he added.

"There are that many revenue streams that have been taken away – we can't do large families, we can't do funerals, we can't do celebrations.

"The only way to survive this for me is to try and stay open and reduce said losses.”

Paul, who was forced to throw £20,000 of stock away when pubs were ordered to close on March 23, is concerned many locals will disappear without more financial support.

The government agreed to give local South Yorkshire leaders £41 million to support businesses and workers in the region under the Tier 3 measures – with £11 million spent on track and trace and £30 million for struggling enterprises.

“I'm disappointed, I really feel for my colleagues and a lot of people in this industry because the support is not there”, he added.

"Something needed to happen because pubs have been losing money since October, they've not been getting the volume that they needed to do, so something needed to happen and I think to actually force closure on people means people now know where they stand.

"But the support is not good enough, not good enough at all.

“Pubs need financially backing otherwise there won't be any pubs to reopen.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.