Forced to close because of fears over transmission of the virus in enclosed indoor spaces, they spent months with staff on furlough and no means of generating income.
Then as other sectors gradually opened up following the easing of restrictions, their doors remained firmly shut.
Now finally they are allowed to welcome in clubbers once again, they are facing further loss of trade over mixed messages about Covid-19 vaccine passports.
The government is understood to be planning to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.
But a letter leaked to the Telegraph and written on behalf of health secretary Sajid Javid said that ‘no final policy decision has yet been taken’ on the issue.
It means people like Alistair Ritchie, owner of Astoria in Portsmouth, are getting lots of calls about forthcoming entry requirements but are unable to provide any answers.
Meanwhile clubs are open and bosses have had no guidance about what they should be checking before letting people in.
It's unacceptable they've been left in the dark, with no communication from the government.
The further worry is that if the requirement to be jabbed is introduced, then this will lead to people being refused entry and more revenue being lost.
There has still been no confirmation about how venues are expected to check double vaccination status, plus nightclubs don't have the means to scan QR codes that display vaccine status on the NHS app.
It all adds up to confusion that could and should be cleared up quickly by the government.
No wonder people like Mr Ritchie are left angry and frustrated. After what they've been through, they deserve better.