Thu, 18 Jun 2020
EVER since lockdown began, restaurant and pub owners around the country have been looking for ways to keep their businesses going.
Simon Page and Jason King, long-time owners of The Wellington Arms in Baughurst, are no different.
After the duo were ordered to close their pub on Friday, March 20 – the weekend of Mother’s Day – they were left with fridges full of food and nowhere for it to go.
It was from this situation that the ‘Welli Deli’ was born the following day – offering customers an eclectic mix of fresh fruit and veg, bread, cakes, quiches, pies, desserts and ice cream, all from displays inside the pub.
Mr Page, who has run the pub with Mr King almost 16 years, said that not only had the change in strategy saved their business and kept their staff employed, it had also helped to maintain the livelihoods of many of their suppliers.
He said: “If we had closed and furloughed staff, I don’t think we’d be in the position we are now to reopen.
“We came up with the idea of opening a delicatessen to transform our business and also to give our suppliers some work.
“If all the restaurants are closed down, all our suppliers would have nowhere to bring their produce.
“So with our butcher, greengrocer, wine merchant and fishmonger, we’ve been able to create a big display.
“It’s good for everyone.”
With Mr Page running front of house, his partner Mr King works in the kitchen, cooking up meals that have helped turn The Wellington Arms become one of the most loved pubs in the county.
Mr King – who used to run several restaurants in Hong Kong – said it had been a challenge but that they had been fortunate in being able to keep going.
He said: “I’ve honestly never worked this hard in my whole life.
“The community has been really great – half the problem was getting people to know what we’re doing now rather than just being written off.
“But people have enjoyed what we’re doing – there’s normally a queue out the door.
“People are asking if we’ll be able to continue doing it when normal trading resumes.
“We’re just taking each day as it comes and we’re quite lucky that we are still here.”