Portsmouth and Gosport pubs eye up parking spaces as pub 'gardens' to welcome back punters
FACING three months of closure, landlords without pub gardens in Portsmouth and Gosport find little to cheer in the government's roadmap out of lockdown.
The government’s plan allows for pubs’ outdoor spaces to reopen from April 12, with indoor service returning from May 17.
City boozers in Portsmouth and Gosport are now considering turning parking bays into makeshift terraces – with one publican joking his pub may open the worst beer garden in the country to welcome back punters.
Simon Bull, who helps run the Four Ale Taproom in Gosport alongside his daughter, Shannon, said: ‘We have a parking space we could use. We call it ‘The Best Worst Beer Garden’. You’re sitting on a bench in a layby. You must be pretty desperate for a beer to sit there. We could try it on a Friday or Saturday night – but we don’t know yet.’
But Simon says people are already calling up to book tables – indoors – for the May reopening.
He said: ‘We've had about half a dozen people call us.
'We’ll see how it goes. Numbers massively reduced even when we reopened last summer. We went from 50 people capacity to 16 people. We were running on 20 to 30 per cent of normal trade.’
The pub is continuing to offer deliveries to PO12 and PO13 postcodes on Thursdays and Fridays with no drop-off charge, and deliveries to PO1 and PO7 areas on Wednesdays on minimum orders of £20 plus a £2 delivery charge.
In Portsmouth, the general manager of the Lady Hamilton pub is weighing up turning a parking space into an outdoor seating area.
Jeanette Warren, who has worked at the pub for 17 years said: ‘We have a car parking space at the side of the building. We could quickly turn it into an outdoor space. We would need heaters, extra staff, and to put down decking.
‘The question is – is it worth it?
‘But we get messages every day asking when we will be open.’
The pub is continuing to work with Pompey in the Community to provide hot meals for vulnerable people who are shielding or isolating, and does not currently have plans for an alcohol delivery or takeout service.
But many pubs will not even have the option of an adaptable parking space, like The Hole In The Wall in Great Southsea Street, which is looking at a May reopening.
But landlord Jon McKerracher feels no animosity to landlords with large outdoor spaces: 'Good luck to those that can take the chance. You know what the English weather is like. But how many pubs in garden have a large garden?’
He added: 'When we were allowed to reopen last July, we weren't making as much money as from our takeout service in the first lockdown. So we will see what happens.’
But the publican is exasperated at the government ‘picking on’ pubs, with both Simon and Jeanette agreeing.
Jon said: ‘If they are closing a lot of pubs until May, we need more money. A lot of bar and pub owners are feeling fed-up and throwing in the towel.
‘We feel demonised.’