Hucknall pub landlady left with 'no choice' but to quit due to lack of financial support
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Clair Whiffin-Honey, aged 47, has been at the High Street pub for 10 years – seven of which as landlady – after years of previous experience working doors and pubs in Gloucestershire.
There had been fears the historic pub – the oldest in Hucknall and a former rent house of Lord Byron – would be shutting down after Clair and her team left at the weekend.
But Clair herself says Greene King – the brewery that owns the pub – has put a holding company in to take over the pub from today (Monday) until a decision on its permanent future is made.
Clair said: “I’ve been an absolute mess because I don’t want to go, but I can’t afford it any more.
“When other pubs started doing things like £2 a pint, I approached the brewery about helping us because they could do things like reduced rent or offers on their beer, which was expensive to buy from them, but I was tied in so I had to.
"They made promises they were going to do those things but for the last six months now, I’ve been telling them they had to do something because the impacts were becoming massive – takings had dropped from £12,000 a week to £5,000.
"But they’ve dragged their feet and it’s got to the point where I can’t afford to do it anymore.
"I’ve put all my savings into this pub to keep it going because, to me, this isn’t just a pub – a lot of these customers are like family to me.
"I’ve been involved with charities and community schemes with the pub, anything I could do to help people over the years, I have done.
"I’ve even gone as far once as to go an indentify the body of one of our customers because he had no family.
"I’ve done everything I can to keep this as a working man’s pub because that’s the people who come in here, they’re working men.
"And the brewery has always been happy to support what I’ve wanted in here but just not the financial support, which is what we needed more than anything.
Many regulars at the pub have expressed their sadness at Clair leaving and she said will miss them and her staff, who are all leaving too.
Clair said: “My staff are fantastic, none of them want to stay, their exact words were ‘if you’re not here, we’re not here.
"I’ve asked them to think about that but they said ‘no without you, we’re not staying’.
"I can’t thank them enough because they are absolutely phenomenal, you’ll never get a greater team than the one I’ve had here.”
A spokesperson for Greene King said: “We have had a close working relationship with our current business partner at the Red Lion in Hucknall for a number of years now, providing long-term support to help them run this much loved pub in the local community.
"We are exploring options to keep the Red Lion pub open and trading as normal, while at the same time securing the long-term future of the pub."