Thorley Taverns set to welcome back all staff with not a single redundancy during year of varying covid restrictions

Thorley Taverns director Phil Thorley (Photo Thorley Taverns)

More than 300 furloughed workers for Thorley Taverns are counting down the days to April 12 when pubs can resume service in outdoor areas and, for a handful, May 17 when indoor trade restarts.

Not one member of staff at the business, which has 19 venues in Thanet and one in Sandwich, was made redundant during the year of varying covid restrictions.

Hospitality sites first shut in March last year and were allowed to open for around just four months, from July through to the November. The Eat Out to Help Out scheme boosted trade but then covid cases began to rise resulting in renewed lockdown in November.

Now, with the government roadmap out of restrictions underway, the team is busy preparing for at least 14 venues to open in April – including popular Cramptons in Broadstairs, Barnacles in Margate and The Queen’s Head on Ramsgate seafront.

Garden at Cramptons (Photo Cramptons)

Pubs with outdoor areas will operate table service, some sites without gardens or outdoor seating will run takeaways, but all are planned to reopen by May and Thorleys director Phil Thorley says he is looking forward to seeing all of his team back in the business.

He said: “We have got over 300 staff on furlough and we made the conscious decision not to make anyone redundant, We have always been an active and pro-active business and we intend to reopen everywhere when we can and need every one of our team to come back, serve the public and do what we do as a business.

“On April 12 we are opening 14 out of 19 Thanet sites with gardens or through takeaways and the rest will be opening on May 17.

“We are pleased and relieved all at the same time. As a company we are ready to reopen when the restrictions are lifted. With the numbers (of cases) falling and hospitalisations falling, as well as the roll out of vaccinations which has been fantastic, we feel that public confidence levels are getting higher.”

Captain Digby (Photo Dover Archives)

Mr Thorley says people can see small steps back to normality. This includes his own family with his fiver-year-old grandson going back to school yesterday (March 8).

He says there is now an appetite to be able to socialise again – safely with covid-secure measures in place.

He said: “Everyone in the street asks the question when we are reopening. People want to come back and socialise, they have missed this.

“We are as excited as the public and now we know the timescales and people can have confidence because of the vaccinations and the number of cases now falling off a cliff edge.”

Thorley Taverns was created in London in 1971 by Phil’s father Frank and opened its first Thanet venue -The Charles Dickens in Broadstairs – in 1975.

Tartar Frigate (Photo Tartar Frigate)

The family made the permanent move to the isle in 1977 and continued to grow, selling the last London pub in 2013 to concentrate on the Thanet pubs, restaurants and hotels. They have also been involved in fundraising for vaious isle charities including the Alfie Gough Trust and Oasis Domestic Abuse service.

The lifting of restrictions began yesterday (March 8) with the reopening of schools, Care home residents finally allowed have close contact visits from a nominated person, subject to testing and wearing of PPE, and the public being able to meet one other person outdoors, with  picnics or coffee on a bench allowed.

On March 29 there will be a return of the rule of six for outdoor meetings – including private gardens -and allowing two households to meet outdoors.

The Queen’s Head (Photo Queen’s Head)

Outdoor sport courts for tennis, basketball etc and outdoor swimming pools to reopen as well as organised outdoor sports.

Removal of the legal requirement to stay at home although people will be asked to work from home if they can and to minimise travel.

April 12 is when non essential retail reopens, personal care services, including hairdressers, nail bars and indoor gyms, can resume business and the hospitality trade begins reopening with holiday lets/ self-contained accommodation, outdoor service at pubs and restaurants and reopening at zoos, theme parks, drive in cinemas, libraries and community centres.

On May 17 more restrictions are due to be lifted, including the reopening of indoor service at pubs, restaurants, play areas, cinemas, theatres, hotels, B&Bs and sport stadiums. Rule of six will apply

An announcement by Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick MP of plans to extend pavement licences for a further 12 months gives more scope for pubs, restaurants and cafes to serve people outside.

Thorley Taverns reopening on April 12

Barnacles (Margate),

Captain Digby (Broadstairs),

Charles Dickens (Broadstairs)

The Oak Hotel (Ramsgate)

Broadstairs Pavilion

The Queens Head (Ramsgate)

The Tartar Frigate (Broadstairs)

The Lanthorne (Broadstairs)

The Pegwell Bay Hotel

Bradstow Mill (Broadstairs)

Cramptons (Broadstairs)

Wig & Pen (Margate)

Hotel de Ville (Ramsgate)

The Red Lion (Ramsgate)

Prime Minister announces ‘cautious but irreversible’ roadmap out of covid restrictions


  1. Well done all those staff have a job to go back to. Boris & Co have done well to support them with furlough.

  2. The IoTN has made the same mistake that so many people have made. Pubs will not open *before* April 12 under any circumstances, and if the “R” rate, infection numbers and so on start to rise again, they won’t open at all.
    The big problem was Boris laying out a “road map” which he said was data driven, then giving us a load of dates. Now we all expect outside service to open on April 12th, full reopening on May 17th and so on.
    These things will not happen if infection and death rates start to rise again.

    • Postive tests are not necessarily cases. So many false positives in the mix for a virus that is still not isolated. Viruses and mutations will be here forever. Every year from now on in. How will we deal with that logically? Some will actually welcome lockdowns for the whole of their life span. I presume they have no need to earn money, run a business or have children or young people with a future to be cherished, or are connected with vulnerable children/adults or the elderly who have had human contact and community cut off. Let’s be honest about what we will do every year from now on in. Experimental gene therapy won’t hack it, and will be interesting to see how that will interact with common coronaviruses this Winter. Many medical experts commenting on the dangers there just now.

  3. You say “Postive tests are not necessarily cases. “.
    But dead people are. At least 125,000.
    What do you mean “not isolated”? This is fake news. It gas been isolated (
    If as you claim it’s not been isolated, how do you know it will be with us for ever, when you deny its existence?
    Do you have any data to support your claim that ” Some will actually welcome lockdowns for the whole of their life span”?
    I don’t understand your last comment about “Many medical experts…”. Please elaborate.

  4. I started my beer drinking career over 60 years ago, and I have never gone as long as this last year without a pint! Good luck to Thorley, they are a boon to Thanet, and serve a really good pint of Courage (which I miss daily!)

  5. The same weight I have been for over 30 years Peter, just under 6 ft tall, and a touch under 12 stone, no beer belly! This comes from avoiding animal fat, sugar, and carb’s, and I exercise on my Cross Trainer twice a day, since I had to give up swimming a mile every other day, which I had done for over 20 years! On the plus side the Foresters Pub in Boundary Road, Ramsgate is being renovated, and aiming to re-open in July so one of the workman told me as I was passing!

  6. Frank & Philip Thorley are a boon to Thanet creating much needed jobs and are good employers. Very brave to be opening so many venues considering the draconian restrictions with outdoor trading only allowed. It is a fact that only 2 out of 5 pubs have outdoor facilities meaning customers from 5 pubs will have to cram into just 2 hospitality pub gardens. Social distancing will be a nightmare. This Rule is ill thought out and madness. Best wishes to any venues that are brave enough to risk opening.

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