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Cost of living: If no one comes we close early, says pub

At the Barn Pub near Rugby, the drinks are ready to be served, but unless lots of customers arrive, staff leave early.

"If no regulars come in, we close early," the chef says. "It costs to keep this building heated."

The Barn Pub is not alone. A survey from the British Beer and Pub Association, seen by the BBC, suggested most pubs are thinking of cutting down trading hours over the winter.

The industry is grappling with energy bills and staff shortages.

The family-run Barn Pub was forced to shut altogether between April and September this year because of a lack of staff.

Although it has now reopened, it's having to make some tough decisions due to rising bills.

On Mondays to Wednesdays, the pub now tends to close at 8pm rather than 10pm. On Thursdays, it's 10pm, rather than 11pm.

Fridays and Saturdays are unchanged, with the pub closing at its usual time of 11pm, although on Sunday it usually closes earlier now, at 8pm.

If no-one is there, and no regulars turn up, staff can close early, head chef Ben Stead-Davis told the BBC.

"At the end of the day, it does cost quite a bit of money to keep this building heated," he said.

Energy bills are the pub's biggest concern, with bills rising from £2,000 to £8,000 per month.

But other costs have also climbed, including food, he said.

The pub is looking forward to a busy Christmas, but might be forced to close for one day of the week from January.

Pubs across the UK are hoping for a busy festive period, after years of pandemic disruption.

As well as shorter opening hours, the Barn Pub has cut the hours it serves food to four days per week, including the weekend, down from seven.

When the kitchen is open, it's serving up new items, including a vegan version of a carvery, to try to keep people coming in.

Some local customers at the Barn Pub understand why the pub has made these decisions.

"It's very sad really, both for the customer and for the people that work here, that provide excellent service," one told the BBC.

"I understand why they're doing it, but you need a place to meet up, you need to get out, you need to participate with other people," another said.

The Barn Pub is one of many restaurants and pubs being forced to make tough decisions due to cost-of-living pressures.

A majority (86%) of UK pubs are considering reducing opening hours over the winter, a survey of nearly 4,500 pubs by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) suggested.

The survey, which was shared exclusively with the BBC, suggested that almost the same number (85%) are thinking of closing altogether for one or two days a week.

However, some businesses are having to consider closing their doors permanently.

A BBC analysis found that 331 food service firms - restaurants, cafés, pubs and catering companies - announced that they were insolvent in November.

This is an increase of 57% compared with a year ago, and 62% more than in November 2019, before the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In total, 6,293 hospitality firms have started insolvency proceedings since 2020.


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