Sheffield landlords welcome "freedom day" as one reveals his venue has lost £130k since pandemic began

Crookes Social Club manager Maurice ChampeauCrookes Social Club manager Maurice Champeau
Crookes Social Club manager Maurice Champeau
A Sheffield landlord says he is looking forward to all Covid restrictions being removed on “freedom day,” as he reveals his venue has lost £130,000 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Manager of Crookes Social Club, Maurice Champeau, said he recently totalled the Club’s huge losses of £130,000 which were in spite of the Government grants given out while they were forced to close, adding that the venue has lost between £2,000 and £4,000 every week since the Club reopened with restrictions in April.

Maurice said table service requirements has forced him to double the size of his workforce, and hopes the removal of all legal restrictions from July 19 will mean the Club can begin to make money again.

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"I’m looking forward to letting people come to the bar again and getting back to the kind of normality customers recognise from us,” he said.

The Raven Inn on Palm Street, WalkleyThe Raven Inn on Palm Street, Walkley
The Raven Inn on Palm Street, Walkley

While Maurice did consider keeping the Club closed until so-called “freedom day” due to running at a loss under Covid restrictions, he said he wanted to keep it open for his older customers for whom visiting the Club is an important part of their life, and their routine.

Maurice said the Club, which is based on Mulehouse Road, Crookes, has managed to survive as a result of reserves built up over a period of six years, which are now close to running out.

“Freedom Day is coming at the right time for us,” noted Maurice.

He believes it will take five years for the Club to build up enough reserves to get them into the same position they were in prior to Covid.

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While Maurice says it is “time for businesses and the country to accept that Covid exists and to be responsible for their personal safety,” he also hopes people will be sensible and help the country to avoid further lockdowns.

Maurice says the Club cannot afford to be shut down again, and it currently has functions and events booked in every weekend into next year.

He says large functions such as boxing events which command crowds of between 400 and 500 people is where the Club makes most of its money, and is looking forward to welcoming such occasions back to the Club.

He intends to continue wearing a mask to protect himself and those around him; and although he and the team will be sensitive to the needs and concerns of customers, they will not impose any Covid requirements upon punters.

Customers are welcome to wear face coverings, and will also be able to check in with the NHS Track and Trace app, if they choose to.

The team will also ensure the Club is as clean as possible to ensure customers feel safe while visiting.

Landlord of The Raven Inn on Palm Street, Walkley, John Lowry has also welcomed the removal of restrictions.

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John said the pub, which is owned by Loxley Brewery, has adhered to all Covid restrictions, but has also attempted to prevent it from being “contaminated with the frippery of Covid.”

"A pub is a solace, and if we had included all of the floor markings and things like that, I think it would have created anxiety in people. While there are places where have people queuing and have needed it, we’ve never wanted to enforce that,” he explained.

Over the next few days, John and the team will begin to bring down some of the extra furniture that the pub will be able to accommodate from Monday, which has been languishing in John’s office for months.

“Some of our staff have never seen the pub full of furniture, because we’ve taken them on over the last 15 to 18 months, and we’ll see what looks comfortable,” he said.

"We’re looking forward to it, and will be approaching things carefully...we’re going to relax things while maintaining the good processes we’ve learned along with the ones we’ve always had.”

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He says customers can opt to wear face coverings if they choose to, and he will keep his mask with him in case of circumstances where he feels it is appropriate to wear it.

The Raven is also set to extend its opening hours and will be open every day from midday until 11pm, except for weekends when it will be open until midnight.

John says the “consistency” being open every day allows is important, and hopes the extended opening hours will help customers to feel confident about coming to the pub, because there will be plenty of opportunities to visit when it is quieter.

Star reader Leanne Oldfield said she welcomed restrictions being lifted on Monday, and said allowing people to choose whether they want to wear a face covering was the right move.

She said: “I agree to allow people to have the option on whether to wear a mask now as it (unlocking) will cause another wave whenever it happens. Most people are not currently following the rules by wearing a mask in shops now and nothing has been getting done about this.”

"As long as people keep washing their hands then there shouldn’t be an issue,” she added.

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