Final word interview
PUBLISHED: 08:18 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:19 30 July 2020
Mike Yeatman is known to many as a man who knows his wines. He is also the person, who along with his wife Chris, first brought Venga to Portishead High Street and went on to rescue and transform the White Hart in Weston in Gordano.
The Resident talked to Mike about the effects of lockdown and what post lockdown means for him and his business.
He said: “Quarantine has been extremely stressful for many people and for some it has meant personal tragedy, but for others it brought unexpected enjoyment of time away from work and simple pleasures.
The publican’s life is one of late nights, long days and eating all the wrong things at all the wrong times - a nice cheeseboard and some decent red at 2am once the pub wedding for the day is done and dusted.
Lockdown for me was bitter sweet. The pub lost 28 weddings and more than 40 special events and that along with zero rent concession from our landlords means for us that times ahead will be tough. However, I personally lost more than three stone in weight; an unusual exchange but certainly a reward for ‘normal’ living.”
What changes have you had to make?
“If there was ever a pub that had the perfect set up for Covid-19 safety it has to be The White Hart.
With an extensive garden that safely seats 80 people, we invested in fully serviced outside bars and an outdoor kitchen long before the pandemic. Offering an outdoor experience to those who wanted it, come rain or shine, was part of our unique attraction.
Much of our outdoor seating is under cover and the garden tepee has eight distanced tables for six, so we really have a lot to offer those who now want to safely socialise.
I’m not going to go on about all the Covid guidelines they are everywhere, however our customers can be assured that the venue is being safely and intelligently run.
Everything we plan will have distancing in mind but we will also be mindful of not ruining the ambience and overall friendliness of our venue. As soon as government guidelines permit we will look at how we can safely reintroduce some of the fantastic events the White Hart is famous for, including live music and food and drink festivals.”
How do you see your future at The White Hart?
“We reopened on July 10, not quite sure what to expect. My video on Facebook of our procedures and distancing has had 60,000 views to date and we’ve been comforted by good customer levels over our shorter Thursday to Sunday working week. The truth is of course, your local independent pub or restaurant will always struggle against the big brands; numerous restaurants trading insolvently for years having pre-packed administrations every so often.
We are pleased to be open again, we missed our customers and it’s great to have them back but the independents of Portishead and Clevedon are in for a tough haul. Now more than ever, the local independent pubs, restaurants, shops, gyms and every other entrepreneur need the support of local residents.” n
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