“It had got to the point with the general public where they just literally think they can do what they want in a pub – kids running around, moving tables, crowding round the bar – so now it feels like a much more civilised atmosphere, which I actually really like.”
Before reopening on 4 July, Pickles un-furloughed a number of the pub’s staff and implemented new training procedures following coronavirus health and safety guidance, in addition to introducing sanitising stations around the pub, layout changes, new Wi-Fi, booking systems, enhanced cleaning procedures, cash-free payment and a new Bowgie App.
Pickles is also allocating two-hour slots per table and asking all customers to reserve a table of a maximum of eight covers before arriving.
“It’s alarming that some people thought they were just going to come unannounced and wander up to the bar, order a pint and sit at the bar – you think ‘have you not listened to the news over the past three months?’
“In the main, people are fully understanding and accommodating and patient,” she added, “just a few people struggling with tech, like downloading apps and ordering online and things like that.
“But it is the new normal and we’ve all had to adjust and adapt over the last few months and it’s a continuing process.”
According to Pickles, whose pub perches on Newquay’s West Pentire Headland above surfing hotspot Crantock beach, trading since the site’s 4 July reopening has been far from choppy despite the pandemic hitting the pub in the midst of a long-planned rebuild.
“We were in the middle of a huge refurbishment and rebuild, so financially it couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” Pickles tells MA, “but during lockdown we were able to carry on with the build and we were literally just ready in time on Saturday, which was quite exciting.”
“It’s been good – obviously we were apprehensive because it’s the unknown and we didn’t know what to expect, we didn’t know what customers’ expectations would be.
“In the main, over the weekend everybody was very understanding and people who hadn’t booked didn’t mind waiting to be booked in.
“Generally, it’s been okay – a few people have struggled with the technology with ordering on app. It’s a really different experience obviously not having people bustling around the bar – but it’s quite a nice atmosphere from our perspective.”
Regular live streams
Despite a lockdown makeover, the destination pub near Newquay hosted a number of virtual events during the Government’s enforced closure, which were often watched by viewers in their thousands.
On bank holiday Monday (13 April), for example, the Bowgie co-hosted a live gig featuring Black Velvet Irish Music with a number of other pubs in Cornwall, which attracted more than 20,000 viewers.
“It was a huge success and at one stage we had more than 8,600 live viewers with some watching from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Spain and Ireland,” Pickles said.
“People were sending in photos of their families dancing in the kitchen so the band could get the atmosphere of everyone enjoying it at home.”
What’s more, throughout lockdown Pickles joined forces with Newquay-based Issey Yoga to live stream free yoga classes and broadcast from Crantock and the local area via her pub’s Facebook page on a daily basis to allow people to enjoy the tourist hotspot’s sights and sounds from afar – with one receiving 14,000 views and 600 comments from people around the world.