The hospitality industry has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus shut down which has left businesses like pubs, already operating under tight margins, facing uncertain futures.
Thornton Heath’s two publicans are looking to the future and are determined to get through the next few weeks and months ahead.
Both pubs benefit from CPFC football match footfall but also have a strong regular customer base. They are checking in and keeping in touch with their customers via social media.
Prince George landlady Sheila Gaughan said: “We ceased trading just over 10 days ago, although I fully understood and embraced the decision I found it very hard to close the doors, not knowing when we will eventually open again.
“The uncertainty of it all is affecting everyone and I think just being social, even if it’s just on WhatsApp group will bring a bit of normality to us all, which we badly need.
“I’ve been messaging customers on social media to check they’re ok, I’ve set up a Facebook chat, just so we can still keep in touch. So much uncertainty for everyone but we are looking to the future, we will get through this!
“We are planning a party for the first night we re open!”
Neal Singh owner of the Railway Telegraph decided to board up the pub just as a precaution to keep the property safe and intact.
He said: “Whilst it was very disheartening to close our business overnight, we totally understand and respect the government’s decision. However, it is not just us as business owners who feel the affects.
“The Railway Telegraph is a community hub for many. With a great number of our locals visiting daily, meeting and socialising with one another. It was very sad and emotional for all on the last day when the pub had to close. So many emotions for all, the uncertainty, families livelihoods, possible job losses, business closure etc.
“We are keeping in touch with many of our customers, praying everyone stays safe and remains positive.
We remain optimistic to open when it’s all over, that also depends on time frame, currently we think reopening will be July. We have not received any financial aid yet, but that could change.
The owner of Fireaway Pizza is hopeful of being able to stay open despite custom dropping by a third after demand for its home delivery service doubled.
The eatery has had a great response from locals; hosting parties for birthdays and meetings, charities since opening two year’s ago in May on Brigstock Road.
Owner of the authentic artisan pizza business Mario Murphy, said: “Our delivery sales were not amazing but as we had the space for people to sit in we didn’t really find that an issue.
“Since the Coronavirus has come to town we have seen some dramatic changes. Our walk in trade has dropped from approximately 30 customers per day to around 10 and we have obviously had to cancel parties of more than two people in store.
“Having said that, our home delivery side of the business has doubled due to most people not leaving their houses. This has luckily saved us. We have had staff members leave but so far we are managing.
Mario added: “On top of that we have been privileged to be able to supply approximately 100 pizzas to St Georges and Mayday hospital staff who are doing an amazing job and hopefully we will be able to stay open for the local community for as long as possible.”