A PUB landlady has thought outside the box to attract new customers.

Heather Pistor runs the West Hill Tavern near Seven Dials in Brighton with her husband Ben.

The couple say their takings have dropped by as much as 80 per cent since the venue was allowed to reopen.

So they had to put their thinking caps on to work out how to fill the coffers.

They decided to turn the pub into a community centre during the day for artists and creative people to work in and display their efforts.

So the West Hill Tavern is now known as the Westie Pub Hub, in a bid to give people working from home a nice space to work in.

Their battle is one faced by many pubs and restaurants across the city since the coronavirus lockdown rules were eased last month.

Pubs had been closed for more than three months before revellers were allowed to return.

Now many are having to find new ways to make ends meet.

“This is not just out business, it’s also our home,” Heather said.

“We took over about three years ago and had turned around the reputation just before the coronavirus lockdown.

“And summer is not usually our best time, as most tourist and visitors come straight out of the station and go downhill to the beach.

“Pub trade isn’t really there at the moment. People are still worried about the virus, so it has been tough.

“Since reopening we are looking at about 20 per cent of our usual trade. But we still have the same running costs.”

Heather said that she spoke with the community in Seven Dials about what the pub could do to adapt.

Usually it only opened from about 4pm and through the evening, with a regular DJ set.

She said: “One thing which kept coming up was the need for a space to work during the day, away from their homes, which felt safe, welcoming and, well, normal.

“Many people in shared homes find it difficult to get space to work in from home.

“So we spend about a month refurbishing the inside of the pub.

“We wanted to create a home-from-home where friends from far and near can eat, drink, relax and work.

“It meant brightening up the space, and we have reached out to the local community to find artists and makers who would like to exhibit their work for sale.

“We hope we have put a refreshing spin on the traditional pub and encouraging a more neighbourhood vibe with a day-to-night focus.”

The Westie is now open during the day and has more of a cafe feel.

Heather said there are three artists in residence, and their work is already displayed on the walls.

It includes Amy Isles Freeman and Fanny Fielding for their art, and furniture and styling from designer Trash Flamingo.

The pub now offers Black Rock coffee, homemade cakes, cocktails, grilled cheese sandwiches, and free wifi in addition to the usual fare. Heather said the reaction from people so far has been very positive.