A landlord says many pubs might not survive if they can only reopen at partial capacity.

Brett Mendoza, owner of the Caxton Arms in North Gardens, Brighton, said he is having to pay £2,000 in bills each week while the pub is closed.

But the 39-year-old warned he would not be able to cover costs if pubs are only allowed to open at partial capacity.

“Like most pubs we don’t have a huge profit margin,” Mr Mendoza said.

“If we had to open at half capacity that wouldn’t generate enough for our overheads.

“If we’re only allowed to open partially I’ll have to start paying more overheads and I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that.”

The landlord said the pub was “put on the back foot” in March when Prime Minister Boris Johnson encouraged people to stay at home but did not close pubs until a week later.

The Argus: The Caxton Arms in North Gardens, BrightonThe Caxton Arms in North Gardens, Brighton

“For that week we had about 25 per cent of the usual customers but still had full overheads,” he said.

“Straight away we lost loads of money and put ourselves on the back foot.

“After that lockdown came in but we still have bills to pay.

“Thankfully our brewery Shepherd Neame said we didn’t have to pay. A lot of landlords have been stitched up by theirs.

“But it still costs nearly £2,000 a week to operate.

“And from September we’ll have to start paying into the furlough scheme.

“We got the Government grant, which covered some costs.

“But the longer we stay closed the more we’ll have to borrow and the more likely we’ll have debt collectors knocking.

“The more we borrow, the more we have to pay back. I’m doing everything I can to make sure I don’t have to give the key back.”

Mr Mendoza said he was working with a friend on a phone app which would allow customers to order drinks straight to the their table so they can practise social distancing.

The Argus: Mr Mendoza said Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decisions in March hurt the pub's financesMr Mendoza said Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decisions in March hurt the pub's finances

But he feared people may be reluctant to return to their locals. “We don’t know how people are going to feel about going to the pub,” the landlord said.

“We’re trying to do anything we can to open safely.

“Hopefully we’ll be back in two or three months if everything’s back to normal.

“It’s just being able to survive that long.”

Mr Mendoza said reducing alcohol tax would help pubs stay afloat.

“The Government could throw more money at it but that’s coming from the taxpayer,” he said.

“But reducing alcohol duty would be a big help. I’ve had to pour away all of our beer.

“They’ve introduced ‘bounce-back loans’ but those will still have to be paid off.”

Mr Mendoza fears some pubs may not survive the coronavirus crisis.

“It’d be a shame to see pubs disappear off the back of this,” he said. “It’s an essential part of British life.

“The more pubs that survive in the city, the better.”

Mr Mendoza’s comments came as a Thursday survey by comparethemarket.com claimed 56 per cent of Brits would not feel confident visiting cafes, bars and pubs when they reopen.

  • At The Argus, we are championing the work of traders during the coronavirus pandemic as part of our #BackingSussexBusiness campaign. We are always interested to hear how the community is coming together in this crisis. If you know of a local business battling to do all it can in these tough times and/or offering support to the local community, please get in touch at laurie.churchman@theargus.co.uk and rose.lock@theargus.co.uk.