Derbyshire pub which nearly didn't survive lockdown 'glad to be back' and optimistic after busy reopening

A manager of a popular pub says she feels optimistic about the future since reopening - after the business almost didn’t survive lockdown.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 2:50 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 3:22 pm

Lisa Kettleborough, who runs The Blue Bell in Bolsover said the pub was “packed solid” on Monday, when hospitality businesses were allowed to welcome back customers outside, with staff forced to turn away walk-ins from their outdoor marquees which seats 160 people.

Non-essential retail, hairdressers, outdoor attractions, theme parks and stately homes were also given the green light to reopen from April 12 as part of the Prime Minister’s lockdown exit plan.

The premises which had been closed since November 4, was nearly forced to close for good during the third lockdown due to overhead costs.

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Bar staff Beth Davison and Kelly Launders.

“It was buzzing, everyone was happy, really glad to be out”, Lisa said.

"Everyone was being quite good with the distance, it's the new normal now they all understand they have to stay in their seats and its table service only.

"Even if conversations were happening tables apart it was really nice."

Despite some ‘stressful’ hiccups on Monday when the pub’s till system went down and the introduction of table service in line with current Covid regulations, the landlord shared how nice it was to see customers return.

Beth Davison, who works at The Blue Bell in Bolsover, serves Chris Allen and brother Patrick Allen.

She added: "It makes us proud, we've got a beautiful view it overlooks Derbyshire and it is absolutely stunning.

"Old and new customers are coming back so we must be doing something right and it's nice for the local community to have somewhere to go to meet up with friends, with a decent pint and sit with a nice view.”

The Blue Bell will have new outdoor heaters from tomorrow and more tables on Saturday when Sleeping Through The Day are scheduled to play throwback tunes from the likes of Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and Blur to customers in the fully-booked the beer garden.

Lisa was forced to make an emergency beer delivery order after she didn’t anticipate such a high volume of customers turning up on Monday.

The Blue Bell was one of thousands of pubs that reopened outside this week.

"It's been very difficult being closed and there has been no income into the pub whatsoever”, the manager continued.

"The pub was very close to maybe not reopening as such, it was getting to the point where we were getting worried about the overheads and things like that.

"But with any kind of job, any income is greatly received so it is putting The Bell back on the map again.”

The popular pub is set to have a makeover at the end of August this year following investment which will provide new outdoor seating and buildings and more heaters.

Staff were forced to turn some walk-in customers away on April 12 as it was so busy.

Lisa said: "It's all really exciting and obviously it's going to attract more and more custom.

"We're right next to Bolsover Castle so hopefully people that visit there can pop in and have afternoon tea or lunch and a drink to enjoy that view.

"It's a relief to be open and we’re glad to be back.

"It just gives you a warm feeling to know all the years that you've worked so hard for, that we are getting back on track.”

Customers are advised to book in advance at The Blue Bell.

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