We are a 100% independent local Hackney pub without any investors or being a part of a group, and we have an amazing team here. If you are reading this then we are probably friends already, but if not we will welcome you here as soon as we are able to re-open.
We have been sitting on the fence being apprehensive about doing this, but the heat is now on and we need your support.
The Kenton has been sitting proudly on the corner of Kenton road since 1865 and has been serving the community during many crisis through the years, but this one has hit the hospitality industry hard with an enormous financial strain for all of us.
Egil Johansen from the small town of Voss in Norway took over The Kenton is 2009 and it has since become a Hackney institution and an important and popular hub in the local community. We have always focused on hiring local staff, using local suppliers, supporting local artists and talents, and supporting local charities when we can.
During these 11 years we have received numerous awards from “Best Newcomer in London 2010” by the Great British Pub Awards, “Most Loved Pub in London 2014” by Time Out London’s Love London Awards, and “Best Place to Drink in The UK Runners Up 2019” by the Observer’s Food & Drinks awards.
We have now been closed for Covid-19 for over 11 weeks. Thankfully all the staff are safe on the Job Retention Scheme, and we did also receive a grant from the government. But having paid all our suppliers and bills, and with the rent and utilities still running, this money is now gone which has left us in a real financial strain.
Not knowing when we can open again is very frightening, but a much bigger challenge is yet to come; when we do finally re-open, it will be with big restrictions where we will not be able to operate at full capacity. We rely on busy weekends with birthday party bookings and a full beer garden, so if we can only operate with a 50-70% reduced capacity we will simply not break even and we will fold. We are yet to know the exact details and measurements from the government, but everything is pointing towards the fact we will not be able to operate fully for at least a good few months.
When we do re-open all the costs will jump straight up again, gas, electrics, TV licenses, music licenses, staff costs, investing in new stock, you name it.
We are of course aware that there are bounce back loans available from the banks, but by already having a couple of loans and being in a generally low-margin industry it could become a further financial strain becoming a “debt slave” when this is all over with little chance of paying these back.
During these 11 weeks of Lockdown we have been very productive:
We invested £600 from the government grant in buying The Kenton merchandise and setting up a webshop. So far we have made that money back, plus enough to buy paint, varnish and a couple of tools for our pub revamp.
On a very low budget by doing everything ourselves, we have decorated the whole interior top to bottom, screeded the garden floor, painted and varnished all garden furniture, and sanding down the bar and put 6 coats of varnish on it. The whole pub has been completely transformed and is looking stunning.
We have unfortunately not been able to sell take-away beers because our Premises License does not allow it, but an application is currently with Hackney Council and we are hoping to have this approved very soon. A take-away and delivery service would not just be quick Lockdown solution, but it will be a new addition to our business model and a new opportunity for the future.
Before we can re-open, whenever that will be, we must make a few amendments to the pub’s layout to be Covid-safe ready and for the protection of our staff and kitchen, and that will cost money.
We also need to stock up with everything as a lot of our beer kegs and bottles are now beyond their sell by date.
Our rent and utility bills are still ticking on, although these are reduced now, and these will as already mentioned spring straight up again once we re-open.
Overall we are worried about our future and are trying to find ways and solutions to generate funds that can see us through this and to ensure the future of all our staff.
Please help what you can on our Crowdfunding site, every penny matters. Last summer we signed a fresh 20-year lease so hopefully we can be around at least until 2039.
There are a few things that you can claim for your donations, and when we can trade at full capacity we will through a massive party for everyone and celebrate like there's no tomorrow.
We shall be forever grateful for your help; we miss out punters and cannot wait to see you again very soon.
Lots of love from Egil & Team Kenton