The Challenge of Making the Peartree a Pub Again

Daz Seager describes the path to normality as a minefield

Daz Seager at the Peartree pub

A publican at a historic Fulham pub which has helped cook up 14,000 meals for vulnerable people during lockdown said it’s a “minefield” working out how to reopen for customers.

Staff at the 200-year-old Peartree pub launched the Peardrops project to make and deliver meals for the elderly, homeless and vulnerable during lockdown.

And people from the hospitality sector joined forces with volunteers including barristers and teachers to help feed people in Hammersmith and Fulham as well Ealing Soup Kitchen.

Right now the 200-year-old family pub and restaurant is also running a deli, kitchen with take-away food and bakers shop. As it’s close to Charing Cross Hospital they are seeing a lot of hospital staff.

One of the pub’s owners, Daz Seager said,“They are absolutely exhausted but seem to remain positive as much as they can. They come in for a bit of normality.”

The pub has diversified during lockdown
The pub has diversified during lockdown

He is also working out how to reopen as lockdown eases.

The government said it will be 4 July at the earliest before pubs and restaurants can reopen. And business secretary Alok Sharma said this week more details would be published soon to help businesses.

Mr Seager said reopening after lockdown means, “We are thinking about things we have never ever thought about.”

Amongst the issues are how to manage toilets and keeping taps clean and sanitised.

Mr Seager said he is considering if he needs to “have somebody at the door to make sure we don’t have three people in at the same time.”

Other issues include planning to ensure careful cleaning of glassware, cutlery and furniture and how to run the pub.

“Staff can wear gloves when they collect the glasses off the table and then you have to get rid of the gloves.”

Another challenge for every customer is remembering to keep using hand sanitizers or wipes.

And Mr Seager wondered whether he needed to take a register of customers in case one is tested positive for Covid-19 or if people will sign up to the Government’s Track and Trace app, which is designed to help stop the spread of the virus.

He said: “It does not seem to have been thought through. There does not seem to be an organisation out there making clear instructions on how to do this.”

And he said social distancing will definitely reduce the number of customers. There are 54 seats in the pub with a capacity of about 60 indoors, plus a beer garden.

Trade body Hospitality UK which represents businesses in the UK estimates with the 2m social distancing rule pubs will make about 30 per cent of their usual revenue. If it is just 1m that could go up to 60 or 70 per cent.

He said: “If you cut that, that’s going to be 30 or less, that’s going to be very difficult.”

But he said the experience of helping the community through Pear Drops showed the value of pubs.

“If we had not been in a pub there’s no way we would have fed 14,000 meals .It shows you that the pub is massively important. It’s the hub of the community.

Julia Gregory - Local Democracy Reporter

June 11, 2020