Encouraging start for Newport pub but changing weather could dampen trade

Amid the elation of beer gardens reopening, one pub landlord thanked his customers for making a successful first week back – but remains wary that a turn in the weather could hit trade again.

Darren Wood of the New Inn in Newport
Darren Wood of the New Inn in Newport

Darren Wood of the New Inn in Newport said the atmosphere in the revamped beer garden had been excellent in the first week following the Government's relaxing of the coronavirus restrictions on April 12.

But, with only outdoor hospitality allowed for the time being, he said that trade would be dependent on the weather and looks forward to the proposed reopening of indoor venues in mid-May.

"It's been a nice week, a really good atmosphere – almost continental cafe culture at the New Inn.

"It's been really pleasant and well-supported. The weather obviously helps enormously – we've had the paved area done at the top end.

"It was just a nice, relaxed weekend.

"We've had no trouble at all [with people sticking to distancing and hygiene rules], people obviously appreciate being able to meet again."

'False trade'

A reliance on table service to serve people outdoors has meant more people have been able to get back to working at the pub.

But Mr Wood warned that the first week's success could represent a form of "false trade" and that people being willing to meet up for drinks outdoors would be reliant on the Shropshire weather.

"It's been a year written off. It's almost about starting again, providing a quality experience to people. They want that experience now, and they've been waiting so long.

"The weather will change at some point and it's about keeping going.

"The sooner we can get back inside the better, it's fingers crossed. That will be when the trade levels out and we get some full normality back.

"Table service is lovely of course but still very heavy on the wage bill.

"A nice encouraging start, but maybe a bit of false trade in the first week."

According to the Government's 'road map' out of lockdown, the earliest that indoor hospitality venues can open again will be May 17, if cases of coronavirus and the vaccination programme are in line with the plans.

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