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Restricted Easter opening costs pub £10k

The manager of a well-known Belfast pub and nightclub said Easter opening hours have cost him around £10,000 in overall takings.

Kris Nixon of White’s Tavern said punters deserted his premises during restricted opening hours for last weekend. Pubs can only serve alcohol between 5pm and 11pm on Good Friday.

The 23-year-old said he had to cancel the shifts of 12 workers for Good Friday and last Saturday because of the expected downturn in trade.

Mr Nixon said his bar, which also serves lunches, was almost deserted on Good Friday.

Speaking at Friday lunchtime, he said: “Normally we’d have taken £1,500 by this time but today we’ve taken £26.

“And it’s all been orange juice and people don’t want to spend money on lunch because they can’t have a drink with it.

“I’m probably losing out about £5,000 for every evening this weekend. It’s nearly the end of the month and we will soon have to pay our rent and rates.

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“The money will be coming out of a bank account that’s nearly empty.”

He said the Christian ethos of Easter was dictating opening hours over the festive period, and harming business as a consequence.

“I don’t believe in any religion and I wouldn’t make a Muslim eat Christian dinner, because you’d be making them adhere to a religion they don’t believe in,” he added.

“If Christians don’t want to have a drink over Easter, that’s fine, but it shouldn’t damage the economy.”

White’s Tavern is part of the Beannchor Group, which also counts The Merchant Hotel and its pub The Cloth Ear among its bars, but is operated by a private lessee.

Mr Nixon added that the restricted Easter hours came at an already tough time for the industry.

He said more people are opting to save money by drinking cheap supermarket alcohol at home rather than hitting the town.

“We are busy for the week of payday and the week after, but business is quiet afterwards,” he said.