Newbury pub closes kitchen as cancellations and restrictions bite
A popular Newbury pub has been forced to close its kitchen indefinitely due to the effect of coronavirus restrictions and cancellations.
The Newbury, run by businessman Pete Lumber, has announced that it needs to stop serving food in order to survive.
The pub will, however, continue to operate as a bar, while Mr Lumber’s gin business – 137 Gin – will continue as normal as an "exclusive dining room" at the back of the Bartholomew Street pub.
Sunday roast will also continue to be offered every week using outside caterers.
Mr Lumber said he was no longer able to sustain the costs versus the cancellations following “the most devastating of times” – but he hoped he would be able to reopen the kitchen again one day.
He said: “I’m not going to lie, I’m gutted.
“It’s not a decision I’ve taken lightly, but right now it’s the only way we can keep the doors open.
“I’ve had to lay staff off – it’s not just the kitchen team, you’ve got waiters and waitresses.
“It’s not over though, and I’d like to think in time we can re-open our gastro-side of the pub when the time is right.”
Mr Lumber said there would be a renewed focus on the bar, and he would put his energy into “providing the best drinks experience”, including craft drinks, real ales and cocktails.
On the positive side, 137 Gin enjoyed a successful two weeks over the festive period as a pop-up store in the old Neal’s Yard unit in Parkway.
All of the gins sold well, including the distillery’s new range of vodkas which have been nominated for an award.
Mr Lumber has submitted planning permission to convert the old Paul’s Bakery unit in Parkway – which closed in October 2019 – into a new branch for the distillery.
He hopes that it could be open around April.
He said: “Our presence has really been welcomed by all the locals – it’s been a brilliant response and our partnership with Parkway was amazing.
“December was our best trading month ever – all the gins and the new vodka sold very well, people liked the product and the story behind it and the passion that goes with it.
“It’s a good showcase of 137 of what we’re about and what we’re bringing.”