Time called on Downend Tavern
Landlord Tim Hill outside the Downend Tavern
THE landlord of the Downend Tavern says he is “absolutely gutted” that his pub will close on November 1.
The community pub, known for its live music, has become the latest casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Landlord Tim Hill has been given less than a month's notice of the closure.
The pub, in Downend Road, is managed by Wickwar Wessex Brewing Company, based just a few miles away, but the building is leased from a management company.
Tim, who has run the pub for a year, said:“I'm absolutely gutted. I feel for the community because this one of the last community pubs around here.
“A lot of business is done here and a lot of friendships made. Couples have met at the pub and got married and customers have passed away. I'm extremely emotional about it at the moment.”
Tim said the closure of the pub at the start of lockdown hit hard but when restrictions lifted, he found people were nervous about venturing out.
He said: “Our demographic is the over 50s and people with health problems, so people are scared to come back into the pub.
“We have thorough safety measures in place like hand sanitiser, NHS boards and have separated tables but still people are worried about coming out.”
Both Tim and the brewery recently invested thousands of pounds improving the pub's decor.
“I spent all lockdown painting the pub and cleaning the carpets to make it better for customers when they returned. We spent in the thousands.”
Tim, who was a restaurant manager in Cambridge before running the Downend Tavern, said: “I would have run the pub exactly a year when we close on November 1. The brewery are still keeping me on and have a flat for me. I'll be a relief manager for a while until we get out of this situation. They have been fantastic, I couldn't ask for a better company to work for.”
The Downend Tavern has long been known for its vibrant music scene, hosting the Bristol Blues Club, as well as its love of Bristol Rovers.
“It's a very music-orientated pub,” said Tim.
“The pub has a really good reputation as a community pub. It was also a busy pub - until Covid hit.”
Tim broke the sad news via Facebook on October 15, with customers responding in their droves.
One said: “The Downend Tavern has been our local for the last 22 years. We've been living overseas for the last 10 years but always look forward to the times we are back in Bristol when we can visit.
"It's a wrench to the community. You've put your hearts into the pub, thank you. I'm sorry it's ended like this.”
“Another proper community pub going, the death of a great tradition,” read another post.
Tim said: “They are absolutely devastated about it.”
Tim is encouraging customers to pop in during the pub's last weekend of opening on October 30, 31/November 1.
“I have a lot of beer in my cellar which needs to be drunk but everything will be socially distanced and safe.
“I wish all my customers the very best and hope they stay safe.”
The Downend Tavern's opening hours until November 1 will be Fridays 2-10pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 12-10pm.