bristolpost– he Rising Sun in Pensford, Bath and North East Somerset, is currently in Tier 2 – the second highest level of restrictions.
This means it has been able to serve customers inside since the second national lockdown ended on December 2, providing alcohol is accompanied by a substantial meal, while hospitality businesses in Tier 3 areas have only been allowed to operate takeaway and delivery services.
You would be forgiven for thinking this would put the gastropub – which won a national award in September for its stunning beer garden – in an enviable position, but that is not the case.
Although the pub attracts a few locals from the village, the vast majority of its trade is made up of people who drive or cycle over for a pub lunch from Bristol and North Somerset, both of which are in Tier 3 – the toughest level of restrictions.
Lots of people from these areas have turned up at the pub in recent weeks hoping to dine there, in addition to many others who have called up to try and book a table over the phone, but the pub has had to turn them away.
Lisa Faulkner, who took over the boozer with her business partner Rebecca Fricker last year, said this has proved difficult.
“By looking at the postcodes of customers we served back in September, we worked out that over 80 per cent of our trade is made up of people in Tier 3 areas,” said Lisa.
“We’re now having to tell the many people from Bristol and other surrounding areas in Tier 3 who supported us over the summer that they can’t come here, which is really tough.
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“Some people have been really compliant and understanding but the kickback from others has been horrendous.
“They feel it’s their right to come and eat at the pub because they’ve always done that but sadly it just isn’t allowed right now.
“To be honest it would make life easier if we were in Tier 3 rather than Tier 2, as so much of our trade comes from Tier 3 areas.”
Staff at the pub ask customers to visit the Government website and enter their postcode when they arrive, or ask them to reveal it if they’re trying to book by phone.
If this search reveals they have visited or are hoping to visit from a Tier 3 area, the pub tells them they cannot enter.
There is also a sign outside telling people they can only enter if they’re from a Tier 1 or Tier 2 area.
“Some people have been incredibly rude when we’ve told them we can’t serve them,” added Lisa, who is patiently waiting to hear if Bristol’s current tier will be reviewed by the Government.
“Over the phone we’ve had obscenities thrown at us and other people have just hung up after we’ve politely spelled it out.
“One woman tried to tell us we had it all wrong and she was in fact allowed to book a table here as we are in a Tier 2 area, but as she was from Bristol she wasn’t correct.
“On top of everything else that’s going on right now it’s not really what you need.”
The Rising Sun is now only open three days a week because of the drastic decline in footfall, said Lisa.
On Saturday (December 12) the pub opened at 12pm but didn’t serve anyone until 4pm, with seven separate parties of people turned away before then as they were from Tier 3 areas.
But despite the difficulties, Lisa is remaining positive.
“It’s a really challenging time for the hospitality sector but I’m a really positive person and I know we’ll bounce back from this,” she said.
“We’ve built up a really good reputation in our first year and we’re already thinking about exciting plans for next year.”