April 23 2020

Our Lockdown Life: Chapter One pub, Bath

In the first of a Pig Guide series publishing the thoughts, concerns and plans of local hospitality businesses during the lockdown, we’re putting Emma and Michael Heap – who refurbed, rebranded and relaunched Chapter One pub (London Road) in 2016 – in the spotlight.

As a wet-led (non-food) pub, our main concern is that we have no idea what the government’s plan is for exiting lockdown; if it’s as chaotic at the end as it was at the beginning, we’re in for an even bumpier 2020 than we could ever have imagined.

Within five days, we went from ‘we might have to close for a little bit at some point’ to people being told to avoid pubs, theatres, etc… and then being instructed to close that night. As it happened, we’d already made the decision to close so our timing was spot on – but to shutter a business in five days is extremely problematic. But, like everybody else, we did it, and so far, we’ve managed to get by.

The next hurdle we have to face is the possibility of even more chaos on the easing of lockdown conditions; it’s almost impossible to make any strategic decisions, there are too many variables. While we understand that there are many unknowns for the government too, they’re employed to be the leaders, so they need to show leadership. A firm, staged plan is needed so at least if, for example, you’re a business that’s allowed to reopen during stage three, you know you need to be ready to reopen six weeks after stage one is completed – and of course, they’re all totally random numbers as we don’t know any more about any of this than anybody else does. All we do know is that as a wet-led pub we’ll be one of the last businesses able to re-open,

So far we’ve chosen not to offer any kind of retail service as there were others in the local market already filling that need and we wanted to use the time to work on some other projects. However, we’re still having to work on contingency plans because if we’re still closed in six months we’ll desperately need a form of income.

I think we’re in the same boat as everyone else, really – trying to stay busy and not worry about the things outside of our control. While we’re being very careful with our limited funds, we’re trying to support local businesses wherever we can and celebrate the creativity and community spirit that’s sprung up in the crisis. We’re also having our first break of longer than a few days since we got the keys to this place in December 2015, so there have been some lazy afternoons and epic cooking sessions. We have a lot of concerns about friends and family getting sick, the economic and sociocultural fallout of this pandemic, whether the government will forge ahead with their Brexit timeline potentially compounding those issues… and if anyone in charge knows what they’re doing. But in spite of all that, we’re okay for now; we’re focusing on a future when we can hang out with our customers again, shout to the world about amazing independently produced booze and pat ALL the doggos!”

Emma and Michael Heap, April 2020

2 thoughts on “Our Lockdown Life: Chapter One pub, Bath

  1. Really insightful perspective on the lockdown, I really hope your business and others like it come out of this stronger. Look forward to visiting Chapter One again when the doors are open.

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