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‘We have already seen a downturn in trade’: Pub owners “anxious” about future despite revamp

PUBLISHED: 08:35 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:42 30 September 2020

Terry and Pam Gillman, owners of the Black Horse pub in Thetford, have invested in four log cabins. Photo: Emily Thomson

Terry and Pam Gillman, owners of the Black Horse pub in Thetford, have invested in four log cabins. Photo: Emily Thomson

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After investing in log cabins, a pergola and entire revamp of their outdoor areas, the owners of a pub said they are doing everything they can to ensure the survival of their business.

Terry and Pam Gillman, owners of the Black Horse pub in Thetford, have invested in four log cabins. Photo: Emily ThomsonTerry and Pam Gillman, owners of the Black Horse pub in Thetford, have invested in four log cabins. Photo: Emily Thomson

Pam and Terry Gillman, owners of The Black Horse pub, in Thetford, have transformed their beer garden to create a welcoming and safe environment for customers.

With four individually designed log cabins, named after former pubs and Thetford historian, David Osborne, all with electricity and heating, as well as a large pergola covering an outdoor seating area, the couple hoped this would encourage punters to return.

But as the winter months approach along with the recent restrictions placed on pubs, Mr and Mrs Gillman said they have already seen a downturn in business.

Mrs Gillman said: “We had to think outside of the box and we ploughed everything we have into saving this business.

The Black Horse pub has had a major revamp of its beer garden, so customers can safely sit outside. Photo: Emily ThomsonThe Black Horse pub has had a major revamp of its beer garden, so customers can safely sit outside. Photo: Emily Thomson

“People have been blown away by what we have done outside. When the lights are on at night, they say it’s like being on holiday.

“Since the log cabins have been in operation they have been fully booked and people are re-booking because they feel safe.

“But the problem is, because we are relying so much on our outdoor space at the moment, as soon as the weather turns it’s going to affect us.”

With reduced capacity inside the pub, to comply with social distancing restrictions, along with the 10pm curfew, Mr and Mrs Gillman said they are feeling even more “anxious” about what the next few months will bring.

New log cabins for diners at the Black Horse pub in Thetford, Photo: Emily ThomsonNew log cabins for diners at the Black Horse pub in Thetford, Photo: Emily Thomson

Mr Gillman added: “We have already seen a downturn in trade.

“On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, a lot of our regulars don’t come out until late. They get home from work, have a shower and their tea, and by then there is no point.

“In my personal opinion, by telling people to wear masks in pubs and enforcing the 10pm curfew, it has put seeds of doubt in people’s minds and has labelled pubs as unsafe.

“But we have tried to think of everything we can and we have put all measures in place to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.”

Inside one of the log cabins at the Black Horse pub in Thetford. Photo: Emily ThomsonInside one of the log cabins at the Black Horse pub in Thetford. Photo: Emily Thomson

In a bid to “claw back” business lost, the Black Horse will be opening from 10am on Saturdays for breakfast and Mr and Mrs Gillman hope to offer time slots for home-made afternoon teas during the week.

The Black Horse pub in Thetford has had a major revamp outside. Photo: Emily ThomsonThe Black Horse pub in Thetford has had a major revamp outside. Photo: Emily Thomson

The Black Horse pub has had a major revamp of its beer garden, so customers can safely sit outside. Photo: Emily ThomsonThe Black Horse pub has had a major revamp of its beer garden, so customers can safely sit outside. Photo: Emily Thomson

A log cabin named after Thetford Historian, David Osborne, at the Black Horse pub in Thetford. Photo: Emily ThomsonA log cabin named after Thetford Historian, David Osborne, at the Black Horse pub in Thetford. Photo: Emily Thomson

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