While pubs and the rest of the hospitality industry suffered the covid shutdowns in 2020 and 2021, one landlord was using the time to completely transform his business.
Tony Palmer, boss of the Lord Byron in Margate, couldn’t sit idle as the country ground to a halt and decided to give himself a challenge.
That turned into a huge project ripping out the bar area and kitchen, extending the garden, adding a new smoking area and then, not content with that transformation, four air bnbs were also built at the site.
The result was a ‘massively’ extended pub with 6 dartboards, two pool tables, a 90 square metre dance floor, new toilets, new kitchen and the dedicated air bnbs.
Tony, who is also a full-time firefighter, and wife Denise even sold their bungalow and moved into the pub.
Tony said: “It all started when they locked us down. I’d bought the pub and we were always going to live there so we sold our bungalow and I started to massively extend the pub.
“We opened back up, then there was another lock down and so I did it all again. I built the new air bnbs in the rear garden which have gone down a storm for tourists wanting a night or weekend away when attending events in Margate, which has been on the increase.
“There is the Astro turf garden with 12 extra benches and the smoking area at the rear, separate from the main garden.
“We did it in about six-and-a-half months and it was ready about 2 days before we were allowed to open back up again (2021).
The pub now has 9 darts teams, 8 pool teams, Sunday league football team The Lord Byron Casuals and live music every other weekend.
Tony said: “Revenue is through the roof, up 15% compared to before the pandemic, the Sunday team is in the League Cup final being played at Ramsgate tonight (April 29), the ladies’ darts team won the Margate Thursday night league and the Wednesday night pool team won the Margate pool league.
“And after fundraising we have purchased a defibrillator to be installed on the pub wall and this will be available to the local community “
As well as a rise in turnover, there has been opportunity to offer local employment with staff expanding from two to six in the pub and two cleaners.
Tony added: “It’s been really good, we have lots of new customers and people coming for events are booking into the air bnbs.”