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'It should never have been allowed' – pub landlords slam pop-up restaurants for 'stealing' customers

The pop-up restaurants have been running throughout September (file photo)
The pop-up restaurants have been running throughout September (file photo)

PUB landlords in Lymington have blasted the town council for granting a licence to a series of pop-up restaurants which they say have “stolen” customers from them.

Organiser Onyx Events had claimed hospitality businesses would be boosted by the temporary eateries in the Bath Road recreation ground, which during September are serving diners from Thursday to Sunday.

But one landlord, who asked to remain anonymous, said it had the “complete opposite effect”, adding: “It should never have been allowed to go ahead. It did not create any extra custom for a lot of pubs or cafes in the town.

“It just stole it from us at a time when we are all struggling.”

Peter Troup, landlord of the Bosun’s Chair, said he had complained to Lymington and Pennington Town Council which owns the rec.

He told the A&T: “I am incredibly cross about it. We are all struggling anyway, and you would expect the town council to support the rate-paying businesses and the hundreds of people they employ.”

Mr Troup said he did not have a problem with the event organisers, saying: “They were only doing what an events company is supposed to do. If it had taken place on private land, then that is another matter.

“But I was appalled to discover the council had given the go-ahead for it to be held at Bath Road. The organisers said it would benefit local businesses but that is not what happened.

“We did not receive any extra custom from it, in fact we lost customers. Restaurants in the town did not benefit as most of them do not have the set-up to cater for outdoor events.

“Instead, the eateries at the event came from outside of the area.”

The pop-ups organised by Lymington-based Onyx Events started at the beginning of September and are set to end this weekend.

At the Mayflower Pub, landlord Terry Cloutman said: “There was a level of hesitation and concern about it. It turned out to be a case of having to wait and see, and in the end we were fine. But I am not sure it was of benefit for many local hospitality businesses.”

Residents of Bath Road have also complained to the A&T about the event being allowed.

One said: “It created noise nuisance and really was of no benefit to the town. The siting of the toilet block and generators should not have been permitted at the Bath Road site.”

Bligh Julius, managing director of Onyx Events, said: “I do understand the landlords’ perspective but we are in different times and what we have created is space that is based around space.

“What surprised me was the large amount of older-generation customers who have come and told us that it is the first time they have been out since the lockdown in March.

“They said they felt our events were safe to attend. We did not gain massively financially but it was fantastic to put on our first event since February and be able to give employment to local people.”

He added: “We have had really positive feedback from Bath Road residents. They said it was great to see something great happening in Lymington during these difficult times. We offered them a free round of drinks when they came in and many stayed to dine.”

The A&T contacted the town council for comment but did not receive a response.

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