A PUB will offer customers a special "Dir-Tier 2 menu" with substantial meals from as little as £3 as it looks to adapt to the government's stringent new coronavirus restrictions.

The King's Head in Lewes will offer the light bites for people looking to enjoy a pint at the premises without paying for the price of a sit-down meal.

The five-item menu has taken inspiration from Tory ministers.

Dishes include:

  • Boris's beans - baked beans on bloomer otast for £3
  • Sunak's sausage - jumbo sausage, egg and chips for £5
  • Gove's goujons - cod goujons and chips for £5
  • Priti's pub - black pudding, fried egg and beans for £4
  • Hancock's halloumi - halloumi and pesto bloomer sandwich for £4

All of Sussex will be in Tier 2 when the current national lockdown ends on Wednesday.

One of the restrictions this entails is that pubs "can only serve alcohol with substantial meals".

The Argus: Penelope Payne outside the King's Head in LewesPenelope Payne outside the King's Head in Lewes

King's Head licensee Penelope Payne, who took over the site last July, said: "People are not going to step across the threshold with this caveat.

"This menu is to encourage people to visit our pub. 

"Rather than thinking of it like a restaurant, where you have to pay more for food, customers can get a substantial meal at a very reduced rate.

"It's the only thing I can do to keep my business afloat and keep my staff in jobs."

The 59-year-old said the menu was catered to "people whose priority is the drink", offering them an inexpensive way to enjoy a pint without paying full price for a meal.

During the Southover High Street site's 12pm-10pm opening hours, she will be spending her time in the pub's kitchen preparing the Tier 2 menu dishes to save on running costs.

The pub also operates as a boutique hotel, and will have its regular menu available alongside the "Dir-Tier 2" alternatives.

Ms Payne said: "I have missed November 5 (when Lewes plays host to the UK's largest bonfire night celebration).

"It's a huge event in Lewes - we are the headquarters of the Southover Bonfire Society.

"We had to refund all of the hotel bookings placed over this period, and many for New Year's Eve as well.

"We have got to encourage people in somehow. By introducing this inexpensive menu, hopefully we can bring people through the door. What more can we do?

"I have invested more than £100,000 into this business.

"It's my business, and it's also my home. I live above it."

The Argus: The 'Dir-Tier 2 menu' in fullThe 'Dir-Tier 2 menu' in full

She said she was aware of at least four venues in the town which will not be reopening when national lockdown measures are lifted this week as "it had proved impossible to run a pub in Lewes".

"With chefs, you have to employ more people, and there is less trade at the moment," Ms Payne said.

"We want to give people in Lewes somewhere to go."

The venue has been made Covid-secure and Ms Payne said she has taken extensive efforts to make sure social distancing rules can be followed within the site.

The Argus: Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the inspiration behind the Sunak's sausage dish on the menuChancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the inspiration behind the Sunak's sausage dish on the menu

But she is not alone in her struggle to modify her business model to succeed under the tough new restrictions placed on the hospitality industry by the government.

She said: "Our (pubs') businesses in general need help. I'm suffering hugely.

"I have not had a government grant because my rateable value was too high.

"Since this pandemic started up I have received £3,000, and I pay £3,500 rent each month.

"My staff are on furlough, but I still have rent and overheads to pay.

"To say we are struggling is to say the least. 

"I fight for my business, and I have invested in it, but no one could have seen this coming.

"The pub industry is suffering, and now putting this caveat on it makes things even more difficult.

"They are saying we can open again, but only if we are serving food, and for a limited time as well.

The Argus: Boris Johnson (inspiration behind Boris' beans) and his government have announced tougher tier restrictions when the national lockdown ends at midnight tomorrowBoris Johnson (inspiration behind Boris' beans) and his government have announced tougher tier restrictions when the national lockdown ends at midnight tomorrow

"That means we have to pay extra costs to pay chefs for all the hours we are open."

Ms Payne said this new menu was the latest in a string of changes made at the King's Head in reaction to the coronavirus crisis.

She said: "It's a way of showing that we will adapt, we have got to survive.

"We do offer very nice food, and a boutique hotel. But if we need to adapt like this, we will.

"I will run that kitchen myself from 12pm to 10pm - our opening times.

"That's how I can afford to keep it running."