We are extraordinarily grateful to everyone who helped us reach our initial target of £15,000. That will mean that we can pay the current crop of bills. But due to the fact that we are now in tier 4 and have been closed down again for the foreseeable future, we have set a stretch target of £22,500. It costs at least £1,000 per week to have an empty pub sat there closed.
As it has with so many other businesses 2020 has taken its toll on the Lamb.
We started the year in a reasonably good place. Given the instability of Britain in these Brexity times we were not overwhelmingly optimistic but we felt the pub was popular and enjoyed by regulars and new punters alike. We’d improved our keg beer offering so that as well as being a friendly local we would have something for the beer aficionado. We loved working with our local breweries to bring customers new tastes and old favourites. On match days we welcomed our lovely Arsenal supporters - there was never any trouble - and we used to look forward to welcoming back familiar faces. We had regular Irish folk and blues sessions every week. Dave the Keys tinkled our ivories every Thursday for a traditional sing-a-long, and we were anticipating more live music in 2020 having got our sound limiting system sorted for the sake of our neighbours.
We knew that the pub was a happy, welcoming place and felt that as long as we nurtured that we couldn’t go far wrong.
And then Covid.
During the first lockdown we kept a low profile. People did suggest crowdfunding but it didn’t seem appropriate at that point because we had a grant for the government which we first put towards rent and furlough arrangements for staff. Of course we had no profit but by the end of June we thought we might be out of the worst of it.
We didn’t go for off sales in the first lockdown because we felt that the overriding public health message was to keep our heads down and social distance as far as possible. We felt that’s what the government help was for and that it wasn’t very consistent with trying to recoup losses. We cautiously reopened with much reduced capacity at the end of July with the whole Lamb team working incredibly hard to put Covid-secure measures in place while still retaining an essence of ‘Lambiness’. (Picture below is from last New Year's Eve and not reflective of our stringent post-covid measures!).
The summer was quiet because it always is – and very sensibly people were having their drinks in the open air on Highbury Fields. ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ didn’t help us as a wet-led pub. But just as things were beginning to perk up again Covid levels started rising and new waves of restrictions were imposed on us every few weeks. Our workload increased but customer numbers dwindled. We know that until the end people were trying as hard as they could to support us (and enjoy themselves) – by coming in for an early drink – and we were as busy as we safely be on the nights before new restrictions arose. But it was becoming impossible to socialise with friends Covid-compliantly.
And now we find ourselves in the second lock-down struggling to make ends meet with the pub fighting for survival. But we know that there’s a huge amount of love and goodwill out there. People want to help and we need to get creative….