Beccles and Bungay Journal Awards: Meet your pub landlords of 2021
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021
From a "nightmare" start to 2021 in lockdown, a Beccles pub has worked tirelessly to remain at the heart of the community.
With staff "run off their feet" and busier than ever, particularly during England's fun to the Euro 2020 final in June and July, the team at the Ingate has expanded, along with their popular beer garden, over the last year.
Now, husband-and-wife duo Michelle and Trevor Payne have been named as the Beccles and Bungay Journal's pub landlords of the year for 2021.
Mrs Payne said: "What a way to end the year.
"This year has been a blinder. It has been so difficult and we are all so exhausted, but I am absolutely thrilled at this. It is amazing.
"My customers are really cool and I would like to thank everyone who nominated us and voted for us, They really are something else.
"People want to be happy and we are trying our best for our customers."
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Ahead of the delayed Euros, the pub set up five outdoor TVs and 11 inside, as well as hiring a number of new members of staff to meet sky-high demand.
Mrs Payne said: "2021 has been awful for us. We started in lockdown and then had to do all the work on the garden to double it in size.
"We were rushed off our feet doing table service outdoors trying to follow the new rules which were so difficult to abide by.
"We had customers texting their orders to the bar and had to have one person on the phone all night, and we doubled our staff to cope with the demands.
"We also hired two 15-year-olds to clear glasses because their legs work better than ours.
"We all just worked and worked and worked."
With Omicron cases rising, Mrs Payne is braced for tougher restrictions to be reintroduced in the New Year.
She said: "Every time Boris flummoxes us with his new rules.
"The latest we have been told is that we don't have to shut, but if he tells us we need to keep people outside again then we'll close up until it's over.
"I'm not going to make my elderly customers sit outside in the winter."