A pub group has vowed to pursue the tenants of a South Tyneside boozer for future rent after they quit the business.
The White Lead in Jarrow is now closed after the married couple who took on the lease in March declared themselves insolvent.
Bosses at Sonnet 43 Brew House, part of Sunderland-based Tavistock Hospitality, say they plan to act against David and Sean Husbands to reclaim potential losses.
The pub – previously known as Dougie’s Tavern, in Blackett Street – closed last Saturday and the couple have pledged to pay back customers who paid deposits on room hire for parties.
Jonathan Graham, operations director at Tavistock Hospitality, said: “We will pursue them for the money owed on the lease. We will ask them for the money but I don’t imagine they have any to give.
“They informed us last Thursday to say they were insolvent, and they left the building last Saturday.”
He added: “It is a sad state of affairs and I have sympathy for anyone who has been left out of pocket.”
David Husbands admits the couple signed a “ten-year lease with a five year break” clause and that the couple took over the pub in May.
He added: “It was a 10 year lease with a five-year break, meaning we could opt out after five years.
“The aspiration and intention was to be there long term and see the tenancy through, unfortunately circumstances did not permit this to happen.
“Our position at this time is that we are living with family and friends while our belongings are in storage and we are having to declare bankruptcy.
“Our financial situation is so dire, our phones have been cut off, making it difficult to contact our customers who had bookings in place with us in the near future.
“We have managed to communicate with some and make further arrangements.
He added: “Our priority is to urgently seek employment and a place to live. As soon as we are in employment and receiving an income, we will be arranging for deposits to be refunded.
“Although we opened to a great reception in May, we struggled to maintain a steady cashflow due to continuing maintenance issues.
“We fought to keep going with the future bookings in mind but the financial pressure was too great.
“Sadly we were left with no choice but to close permanently.”
Mr Graham said Tavistock Hospitality had already helped out one customer caught up in the matter
He said: “We own the building but did not operate it and we have no liability, but it is a sad state of affairs and I have sympathy for anyone who has been left out of pocket.
“As a good will gesture, we have been contacted by a woman who had a christening booked and have offered her the use of our Italian Farmhouse venue in Roker.”
The Victorian era Blackett Street premises underwent an £800,000 renovation scheme in 2013.
It traded successfully under one management team until January when the tenants left the business, with the Husbands’ taking over.
Mr Graham said he hoped to have a new tenant in place for the pub to reopen by Christmas.
The Husbands’ have been slammed by a mum who had booked the pub for a function later this month.
She said: “Sean took our deposit just five weeks ago and only found out that something was wrong on Thursday when I called to check with him about the food for our event, and got no reply.
“I’ve already ordered the decorations and had sent invites to people from all over the country, it really left us in a mess.
“Luckily, after much ringing round and frustration in the past couple of days, we have found somewhere to have our celebration.
“We’ve lost our £50 deposit and they really should have let us know that there was a problem.”