Burnley Royal Dyche owner believes 'brighter days are ahead' as pub industry battles back from Covid
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When Boris Johnson locked down the country for the first time in March 2020, very few could have predicted what the following two years would have in store.
Queues outside supermarkets, empty shelves, working from home, masks, and the hospitality sector brought to its knees by waves of restrictions.
At the time, Justine Lorriman, who took over the running of the Yorkshire Street pub in 2013, back when it was called The Princess Royal, told us she was losing sleep worrying about her regulars.
She also predicted Burnley would bounce back stronger, a claim she believes we're now beginning to see come to fruition.
"Trade is good," she said. "We had our usual quiet period during January and February, but now spring is coming, it's quickly picking up. This last week has been really great with the weather, it’s nice to see plenty of people in the beer garden enjoying the sunshine.
"We haven’t felt the effects of Covid since the restrictions have been fully lifted. The Christmas/New Year period was tough. It was difficult with a lot of Burnley games being cancelled. This had such a negative impact on trade, especially the Boxing Day fixture with Everton - that tends to be one of our busiest days of the year if Burnley play at home on Boxing Day. "You could sense the worry of many customers over the Christmas period, worrying if they caught Covid they would have to isolate and miss seeing their families over Christmas, especially when cases were so high. People seem a lot more relaxed now and it’s reassuring to see so many regular faces each week.
""Looking at our stock report since Covid we have seen a bigger rise in the amount of bottles and spirits sold. We also had a big surge in 18-20 year olds, many of these will have missed out on going to pubs for the first time because we were all closed in lockdown."
Looking back to working life under lockdown, Justine said the most challenging part was the not knowing when they were going to be allowed to open again.
"My pub is a huge part of who I am and I was completely lost without having my routine. It was incredibly difficult not seeing my team members and regular customers, we are like family. When Boris announced that we could reopen I just felt this huge reassurance that brighter days were ahead.
"I’d like to think the industry has now seen off the worst, we have to learn to live with it at some point. So many businesses have suffered and had to close, I understand if hospital admissions are high and the NHS cannot cope but our country seemed to fight through it a lot better this lockdown and no restrictions were put on hospitality which was a major relief.”