Rockin’ the Lockin’

Posted: April 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

 So as promised, here’s another post, I don’t think it will be as quite as long as the last one so you may only need one cuppa.. but I’m saying that now, once I get started there is no telling where it will go..

I never really have a plan of what Im going to write, I kinda just let my head open and three hours, four coffees and a packet of hobnobs later you have a mini novel to read.. so here we go, I’m going to tell you what we’ve been up to and we’ll see where it leads.

Firstly, and most importantly an update on Emma. The last couple of days, she has really turned a corner and Im very happy to say she is finally getting better. Things were scary there for a while, especially when she was struggling to get her breath. Obviously, we don’t know if she had the dreaded Covid-19 or not, but with the symptoms she was suffering, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Thankfully, she is on the mend and back in front of her computer – she’s a tough cookie that one! She wanted me to pass on her love and thanks to you all for getting in touch and wishing her a speedy recovery.

So lets get the business bit out of the way. My last post definitely posed more questions than answers because questions were all that there seemed to be, it was only a week ago (don’t know about you guys but time seems to be going by much slower these days, it feels more like a month) and many remain exactly that however, this is what has happened in the last week:

1) We managed to pay our staff their furlough wages (yay!) but still there is no information on reimbursement from the government, all guidance still seems to say it will be June before the money will be available. That’s nine weeks away, thats almost £10,000 in wages payments we have to pay without any money coming in.. YIKES!

2) Molson Coors (Our lead Brewer*) and EI/Stonegate have very kindly agreed to replace all unopened out of date kegs with new stock when pubs can finally reopen. This is brilliant, and will save us from literally having to tip the beer down the drain. It’s not just us they are doing it for, they are doing it all their sites and it must be costing them millions so I tip my hat to those guys. That’s how to look after your outlets! 

* Lead brewer means we stock more of their brands than any other at any given time

3) Finally the council received the relevant guidance on the government grants for small businesses and opened up the application portal on Monday of this week. Needless to say we immediately applied with baited breath. If we get the grant, it will be £25,000. Now that is a huge amount of money and will be a huge life raft, however as you can imagine, all that money is promised out on rent and our other fixed costs, but at least its money we wouldn’t have to borrow.  

Some possible good news coming for this – here comes some of the boring stuff…
In the latter part of last week, The Morning Advertiser (Pub Trade Publication) reported that there were a few smaller pubcos who had gone public stating that they wouldn’t be just deferring rent payments for their tenants, that they would actually be cancelling rent for their tenants during the forced closure period. After all rent is calculated on Fair Maintainable Trade and turnover and if you cannot trade then there is no FMT and there is no turnover, so why should you be charged rent on it? The Pub Code Adjudicator has called upon the five companies overseen by the pubs code that have not yet cancelled rent to demonstrate how they will assist their tenants through the Covid-19 Lockdown. These five companies are the largest in England and Wales, Our Pubco is the largest in the country since acquiring Ei group at the start of the year. If the little ones can step up to support their tenants, and ensure they have a business to come back to, then why cant they?

We spoke to our regional manager last week, who I have to say has actually been awesome and we like her a lot, however, she can only do so much. When we asked the question if they would be following the example of the smaller pubcos and cancelling rent, she said it was still unclear how they were going to proceed and that we had to wait for more news. Now whilst we recognise that the current situation brings its own unique challenges for the big companies too, surely this is the prime time to stand up and demonstrate their leadership in the industry and show that they will go to any lengths to protect their tenants, surely we are all worth that. I guess it is another case of watch this space, the Pub Code Adjudicator is pushing hard for us tenants, we can only hope that the big Pubcos do the right thing, if not there will be one hell of a lot of empty, soulless pubs that were thriving before the pandemic hit.

So, the grant – oh yes – the grant, if we get it will be amazing, but it will be taken up almost immediately to pay back the deferred rent we already owe to Stonegate, unless of course something miraculous happens!! Cross your fingers, toes and anything else you can find..

4) We’ve been chatting regularly to the Music Venues Trust who have been amazing. They have guided us through the grant application, offered advice and are out there supporting grass roots venues like us all over the nation. They have just started up a crisis fund to help venues in immediate threat of closure. We are not in that category just yet, thankfully. We’ve worked out that we have enough funds to survive for 3 months with our doors closed. (We’re already three weeks in) It’s a stark reality, but thats it in black and white. The very sad thing is that we are not alone in this, every other pub in the city, the county, the country is facing this. Don’t get me wrong, We are in a better position that many, but its still not a good position to be in and not a reality we want to be facing. Again, the problem is we have no idea how long this is going to go on for. If the government hurry up and reimburse the money owed for staff furlough wages, it will help and buy us a couple more weeks but the longer it goes on the more uncertain it becomes.

Many more sleepless nights ahead for us all I think.

The financials are all very Doomy and gloomy, but I think it’s important to be honest and open about this stuff. I know how important The Brickies is to so many of you and you all feel like one big family to us, all I can tell you is the truth. However, we are ever the optimists and are trying very hard not to dwell on the what ifs and live week by week. If we get through another week and have paid the staff, we are winning, and if we wake up feeling healthy we are definitely winning!! Getting out of this with everyone we love seems like the best goal to have right now!

So…that bit out of the way (sorry, I know I said it wouldn’t be a long one but it seems my head was much fuller than I thought – better put the kettle on) Here are my positives for the week.

1. I woke up this morning and I was breathing
2. I feel healthy
3. Everyone I love is healthy and well (although a little nuts)
4. I have some amazing friends (although I’m missing them all)
5. We have some amazing customers (thanks for ringing to check on us)
6. The sun has been shining every day
7. I’m really enjoying doing my radio shows
8. I’m learning the lyrics to lots of local band’s songs!
9. I have a very clean flat
10. I still have a very happy ginger dog

It’s not hard to find positives when you look at the suffering that is going on around you, there’s so much to be thankful for.

Brickmakers Live On Air has been more popular than I ever expected, we are now averaging in the region of 140 listeners per show and it’s such good fun. Every Wednesday on the afternoon show (4pm-6pm) I’ve been chatting to local musicians, so far I’ve had Claire Barker and JJ Darby from Bloodshake Chorus on the live phone in’s, its been a real giggle. Today I will be chatting Butty from The Floating Greyhounds so I’m sure that will be entertaining, getting him not to swear live on the radio will be fun in itself. So if you want something hilarious to listen to while you do your housework, login to the website at 4pm I can guarantee that there will be a lot of laughing going on!

Our Live ‘NOT LIVE’ sessions at the weekends have been hugely popular and have received over 3500 views in just over two weeks. We are really loving seeing you all posting up photos of you partying in your living rooms to our Facebook page. This weekend we will be featuring Nightlife on Friday night at 9pm, Definitely Oasis (Oasis Tribute) on Saturday night at 9pm and then A Blondie Moment on Sunday from 3pm. So there’s plenty of great music to choose from to keep you entertained. The links will be posted on our facebook page at the start times mentioned above so pour yourselves a cold one and enjoy!

Oh and one last thing – I have discovered how to bring our monthly music quiz to an online platform. I tested it out on some willing guinea pigs (my friends and family) at the weekend and I am going to give it a go this Sunday. So, if you want to be distracted for a hour on Sunday night, come and join us for the Music Quiz. It starts at 7pm and all the information will be posted on our facebook page. It’s all free so there is no massive prizes, its just purely for giggles only!

I’m gonna stop there for now, Im sure I could ramble on all day and night but you guys must have some windows to wash, or lawn to mow or something much better to do.

Have a good week everyone, be safe, stay in and spread the love – not the virus and keep rockin’

Lots of love

Charley (Em and Pam too)

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