A popular city centre pub has opened a community shop and is now serving oatcakes and local produce as well as a wide range of real ales.
Like all pubs, the Coachmakers in Hanley was forced to shut ahead of the UK going into lockdown on March 23 as the county worked to fight the spread of coronavirus.
But landlord Rob Ledgar has opened a community store so customers can still buy their favourite beers as well as milk, oatcakes and locally-grown rhubarb.
Rob, aged 56, of Heron Cross, said: “It is not a massive earner. It is more about keeping our customers engaged and telling them we are still here.
“And in the coming weeks we will have beers from other breweries including some Titanic from Burslem.
“We also have quite a big range of bottle beers with more than 20 local and national beers and real ales.”
Rob and his partner Debbie, aged 51, took on the pub in 2018.
Rob said: “Our aim was to put it back to what it was – a real ale pub. We have held an art exhibition in the pub and we were successful until Covid reared its head.
“We opened the community store when the lockdown started. We were one of the first to do it. We open Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday tend to be the busiest days. On VE Day we probably had 100 people through the door.
“We are reasonably priced at £2.50 a pint and £2.50 a bottle with cider at £3.
“We also sell oatcakes from the Hole in the Wall.
“We are making sure our customers do not forget we are here and we are providing them with a service.
“We have social distancing. We have had council and police involvement to make sure we are doing things properly. We have hand sanitiser at the entrance.
Slowly but surely, some eateries across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire have been re-opening – albeit with new social distancing guidelines firmly in place.
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“Debbie had cancer and before the lockdown we held a fund-raising event and raised more than £4,000 for the cancer ward. She has fully recovered now and has been given the all clear.
“The pub is a community. The community store has allowed people to stay in touch and has been an escape for our regulars.”
The service has proved a hit with customers.
Jack Lancett, aged 30, said: “I just come once a week and take my own bottles to fill up. This week I had some Wealy Hopper. I am just trying to keep the pub going. I think it is a good service they are offering.
“They are friendly people and we can’t wait for the pub to re-open.”
The Community Store is open on Friday from 4pm until 7pm, Saturday 2pm until 7pm, Sunday 2pm until 5pm and Bank Holiday Monday 2pm until 5pm.