Covid-19: Pub landlords struggling despite multiple reinventions

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image copyrightTrina Lake
image captionTrina Lake and Bradley Richards installed a commercial kitchen themselves so they could start offering food

Pub landlords who reinvented their business to survive the pandemic said they were still struggling to keep their "heads above water".

Trina Lake and Bradley Richards, of The Crown in Costessey, near Norwich, sold groceries to NHS workers during the first lockdown.

They also turned a car park into a beer garden, plunged wedding savings into a kitchen and opened a takeaway cafe.

But successive lockdowns meant they were now "hitting a wall".

image copyrightAmanda Allen
image captionThe couple were featured in the national media after a nurse tweeted about their food delivery service in the first lockdown

The couple, who live on the premises and have five children between them, said they had considered applying for a council home.

"We've done so much to the pub, to walk away would be devastating," said Ms Lake.

"We're thinking how much longer can we wait - we're just trying to hold our heads above water. We have diversified about as much as we can."

The couple were told they were not entitled to financial help as they had not been self-employed for long enough.

In the first lockdown, the pair launched a fruit and vegetable delivery service and stall aimed at healthcare workers.

They made the move on the same day they heard they had to shut their pub and had their wedding cancelled.

The couple later built a beer garden and began serving food for the first time in the pub's 90-year history.

image copyrightTrina Lake
image captionThe couple said coronavirus restrictions made them consider how the pub would make a profit and led them to convert their car park into a beer garden
image copyrightTrina Lake
image captionThe new "pandemic" garden is set to host the couple's wedding reception this summer

Wedding savings were spent on an industrial kitchen, allowing them to offer takeaways.

Their most recent foray has been providing Sunday dinners and donating meals to deprived families.

Ms Lake said they raised £500 in 24 hours after launching an appeal and they were now giving away meals to about six families each week.

"Helping others has helped us - we can't sit here and do nothing," she said.

"We had a family with three daughters who donated their £100 Christmas money. I couldn't even speak."

image copyrightTrina Lake
image captionThe couple also turned an old shed into a cocktail shack

After postponing their wedding three times, the new garden is set to host their reception this summer.

"We met here so the more we thought about it, the more it made sense to do it here - with all the new lighting outside it looks lovely," Ms Lake added.

image copyrightTrina Lake
image captionResidents donated decorations to the pub's Christmas display which helped to raise about £500 for a mental health charity

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