After 16 years at the helm Aly and Nick Burke have called last orders for the final time at the Bull’s Head in Margate.
A doubling of the rent, an external repair bill that would have run to many thousands and an upcoming rise in brewery bills, alongside hikes in energy and other costs, have forced the couple to call it a day.
Aly, 55 next week, and Nick took on the Market Place boozer in 2006 after finding it had been boarded up following a repossession.
Aly, whose mum ran pubs including the Rose in June, said: “We had started dating 20 years ago and we had a couple of dates in the Bull’s Head. At that time I was running Ajay’s Karaoke and Nick was refurbishing properties.
“One day we went back to the pub but it was all boarded up, I saw the sign saying the lease was for sale and said ‘let’s have a look.’ Then we said shall we have it and live together and that was it.
“We had never run a pub, because my mum ran pubs everyone assumed I would know what I was ding but I didn’t know anything!”
Despite the learning curve the couple quickly got the hang of it with Aly becoming the face of the pub while Nick returned to building work.
The Bull’s Head has been a pub since the 1700s and hosted comedian Eric Morecambe and new wife Joan Bartlett’s wedding reception in 1952.
Under Aly and Nick’s watch the pub brought customers together and became ‘a heart of the community in the Old Town’ but last night (August 30) was the couple’s final session at the bar.
Aly said: “The bills had already doubled but we had been managing because we are such a busy pub with the most amazing customers and staff.
“We are devastated for our staff and our customers. We had some amazing messages from customers who said they could come here when they were at a low point and find a home and community.
“There were hundreds of messages, none were negative, and the post about the pub closing has been shared more than 20,000 times.
“I’m really sad for our staff who we have had to let go, some who have been here the whole 16 years.”
The pub, as well as the six flats above it, had been run by TJ Investments who, Aly says, were ‘wonderful’ especially during the tough times of covid.
The site was taken over by a new landlord after being sold at auction in 2020.
The couple, who live in Ramsgate, did have nine years left to run on the lease but have had to make the decision to give that up.
Aly said: “We are so sad, we would not be going if we could see any other way.”
They have not made any solid plans for the future but Aly says she would like to find another venue and will keep The Bull’s Head facebook page open to share any updates, as well as continuing to post anniversaries, births, weddings and other community dates.