Mark and Becca Churchill run The Greendale Oak in Cuckney near Mansfield. Like all British publicans, they’ve had one of the toughest 12 months in living memory. But what stands out when talking to the couple is their positivity about the future. The other thing that’s impossible to miss is their determination to build a business that’s even better than the one they had pre-Covid.
Mark says: “The lockdowns have been tough, especially the second. We’ve had some low moments, particularly in November and December when everything was so uncertain. But we now feel upbeat and energised about the future. We know there’ll be challenges but we’re ready for them.”
A NEW BEGINNING
Despite that pain and the other low moments that followed, Mark and Becca have always looked for positives. Mark says: “During this pandemic, we feel that the public have developed a new empathy for hospitality. Previously, our sector was generally regarded negatively. Media stories about pubs were usually bad. But the past year has flagged up how much everyone loves and needs pubs and restaurants. We all miss the pub, its atmosphere and the interaction it brings.”
And that’s one of the reasons why Mark and Becca are looking forward to reopening and driving the business forward. The enforced closure has allowed them to reassess why they do what they do, highlighting the joy of pubs and hospitality. It’s given them plenty of pain for sure, but also an exciting, powerful new motivation.
CHANGES ARE COMING
“The time away has given us space to think,” says Mark. “When we were busy, we were on the treadmill, so we didn’t have any bandwidth. But now we’ve had a chance to plan. We are refreshing our operation to give customers even more reasons to visit. People will want to see something a little different when they come back, so we’re going to offer new drinks styles, exciting new dishes, better service. We can’t wait to get going.”
Mark continues: “A big reason why we are able to feel positive is down to our business partners, Everards. Their approach to all this is how they approach everything: constantly in contact, always transparent, interested in you and your mental health, and more than fair financially. They did not defer rent payments but cancelled them during the beginning of the pandemic and have been very fair with all rent payments thereafter. That was a massive weight off our shoulders. Everyone is going to reopen with debt, but if we had rent debt too, that would be crushing. Above all that, they care.”
RARING TO GO
Thanks to strong support and a positive mindset, Mark and Becca are raring to go. The past 12 months may have delivered many painful moments, but as this duo will attest, you often learn more from the downs than you do from the ups. And because of that, motivation today has never been higher.
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