Jarrow pub landlord fears oldest tavern in the town may go under if it cannot reopen by May

A Jarrow pub landlord has spoken of his fears his business could be forced to close if it can not return to trading before May, or unless there is a significant boost in the Government’s financial support package for the hospitality sector.

The upheavals and uncertainty of the past 11 months have devastated the area’s hospitality businesses, with a number of borough publicans saying they have been left fearing for their futures.

Gareth Carr, who owns the Crown and Anchor pub in Chapel Road, says he has poured more than £100,000 of his own personal savings into the establishment since lockdown began.

He acquired the premises in 2019 and has made a number of renovations to the pub building, adding a restaurant and multi-purpose function space upstairs – including the installation of a commercial kitchen, as well as expanding the number of staff members on the pub’s books.

Jarrow's Crown and Anchor pub landlord, Gareth Carr

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But now, after almost four months’ closure since the Government introduced its tiered local lockdown system in the autumn, the South Tyneside businessman fears he may soon have to call last orders at what is thought to be the oldest pub still trading in the town.

Mr Carr said: "I've cashed in everything that I've got, I've spent more or less everything I've got. So if we don't open in the next few months, we will ultimately go under.

"We did get a 'Bounceback Loan' in May last year, worth around £50,000, which we used to improve the pub and help get us through. But that's due to start being repaid in May. So if we're not open in May, we've no means of paying that loan back. And I've exhausted all my funds pretty much.

"So I can go until May. But if we're not open by May, then I've basically just poured over £100,000 down the drain.

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"I haven't had to pay full rent. But I have still had to pay nearly £1,000 for a building that's empty and that we can't use at the moment. And then there's maintenance costs etc.

"If we have the same restrictions as the ones we had last July by this May, then I think we'll be okay. But if they have the restrictions that were in place just before we closed - where no one can sit together, you need to order a meal, and they're now saying we mightn't be allowed to serve alcohol when we reopen - then we stand absolutely no chance of surviving. This place would be flats within a year."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his ‘roadmap’ out of Lockdown 3 – with a number of local hospitality business owners hoping they are allowed to resume operations as early as Easter.

Mr Carr also said he wanted to see some kind of expanded financial support package.

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"Besides what Boris has to say, I’d like to see Rishi Sunak in the coming months promise a bulk amount for hospitality and give us a number of weeks before the reopening date, so we can re-stock and do all the other vital work we need to do – to give us a fighting chance this time around, basically.

"Because, for the last six months, the amounts of money they’ve given us haven’t even scratched the surface.”

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