Deben Inns boss reveals which three of his Suffolk pubs will reopen first

The Butt & Oyster in Pinmill is included in a CAMRA publication.

The Butt & Oyster at Pin Mill will reopen from April 12. - Credit: Archant

The owner of some of Suffolk's best known pubs says he is "really excited" to start reopening next month - but warned of the challenges ahead, particularly around weather.

Steve Lomas, owner of Woodbridge-based pub chain Deben Inns, said only three of his seven pubs are planning to reopen on April 12, when it is hoped restaurants and pubs will be allowed to serve customers outside.

He said The Maybush in Waldringfield, The Butt and Oyster in Pin Mill and The Fox Inn at Newbourne, will reopen for outside dining and takeaways, with the chain's other four pubs reopening at a later date.

NewsPic Lucy taylorThe Coach & Horses pub, Melton reopeningSteve and Louise LomasEADT 8.7.

Steve and Louise Lomas at the Coach and Horses pub in Melton in 2011 - Credit: LUCY TAYLOR

"Those three have all got lovely gardens or riverside patios," he said. "We're really excited to get open again but we'll be completely reliant on the weather — that's my concern.

"We obviously will have covered areas, but they have to be open at the sides.

"We've got to have the cellar stocked and the fridges full, but what if it's blowing a hoolie? What do we do then?"

Mr Lomas also said he recognised it could be challenging for his staff. At first, pubs will be open on a table service only basis, which will require extra staff.

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"It's going to be quite a culture shock for all the staff because they've been off for such a length of time," he said.

"It's almost like starting afresh. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm confident we've got the staffing and training in place to keep up."

Staff would have to be "called in and let go as and when the British weather allows" he said.

Under the next stage of the government roadmap — which could be as soon as May 17 — pubs can reopen their indoor spaces, but the rule of six will be reintroduced.

Mr Lomas said this would limit pubs to around 60% of their capacity

Despite these restrictions, he said pubs needed to reopen.

"We can't just sit around waiting for things to happen," he said. 

"We've got to get open. We've got to get operating. We've got to make it work."

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