Owners of Wigan pub looking forward to re-opening after restrictions are eased

At a tough time for the hospitality sector David Riley and Denise Bennett, directors of the Bird i'th' Hand on Gidlow Lane, are looking forward with optimism.

Monday, 18th May 2020, 7:00 am
The team at the Bird i'th' Hand are looking forward to re-opening when they can

Their positive outlook is in distinct contrast to some voices within the industry who have expressed real fears for the future as it appears the likes of pubs, cafes and restaurants will be some of the last to re-open after lockdown.

Denise and David have spent a huge amount refurbishing the building since buying it in 2012 and some of that investment could now really pay off, as the renovations include a large function room which will make social distancing much easier.

And they say they are not concerned that punters will be fearful of catching the virus and will not head out for a beer even once the Government has said it is safe to do so.

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Instead, they are sure that when it is safe to throw the doors open, people will come.

David said: “If everybody thinks doom and gloom that’s not healthy. Clearly it’s a difficult situation but we can accommodate it. We’ve got to follow the Government guidelines on social distancing and we will do things correctly with having hand washing and sanitisers and using card readers rather than cash.

“We will do some minor modifications inside to set out the tables accordingly. Ours is a community drinking pub which doesn’t do food so we can accommodate social distancing.

“I’m sure the people will come back when we are allowed to open again. We’re waiting in the wings but we’re guided by the Government.”

Denise added: “Had we not built the function room it would have been a different matter.”

The Bird i’th’Hand has been closed since the Government ordered all pubs to shut in March. Four members of staff have been furloughed but David says they are guaranteed a position again once the pub gets the green light to move forward.

However, the Bird i’th’Hand did face a bump in the road when a baseless social media post suggested it would close permanently to be turned into housing.

In the wake of that Denise and David are particularly keen to emphasise their belief the pub is well placed to weather the current storm.

Dating back to the 19th century, the pub and has long been a favourite of local drinkers for the comfortable, olde-worlde style which is now retained in the snug drinking vault next to the new extension.

David, who is a businessman from Morecambe, first came across the pub after arranging to visit Wigan for a canal boat ride with youngsters from Belarus through the charity Friends of Chernobyl’s Children.