A BELOVED village pub and restaurant is doing a roaring trade after being forced to close due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Just weeks after taking over the Red Lion in Northop, leaseholders Amanda Chitty and Elaine Hughes had to shut its doors and furlough staff as Covid-19 took hold in the UK.
Now, more than 18 months later, they have a clear vision for the venue, including a new website, menu, and further expansion.
Supported by local businesses – including Flint-based NorthWales Media – and independent food and drink producers, Amanda is delighted to finally be able to move forward after such a challenging period for the hospitality sector.
“We took over the lease at the end of 2019 and had big plans for the new year,” said Amanda, who is married to Paul and has three children – Caitlin, Luke, and Keira.
“But those plans went out of the window just a few weeks later; since that point it’s been stop-start all the way, with lockdowns and no money coming in.
“We did takeaways and were investing and working on the inside of the building and outdoor areas to make it safe for customers, while trying to remain patient, but it has been very tough.
“Luckily we have had amazing support from the village and our friends and family in Flint, who really helped us to get through this and stay positive.”
Ex licensee at The Welsh Harp Pub in Flint, Amanda says their 11-strong team – including three chefs – have an appetite for success after being closed for so long.
“There has been significant investment and we have fantastic staff so to not be able to build momentum was very frustrating,” she added.
“We know that has been the same for so many other people, not just businesses, but in our case, we never managed to get going in the first place!
“Hopefully now we see restrictions continue to ease and more and more people joining us in the restaurant and for functions.
“We have already received bookings for Christenings, parties and weddings, including my own! Paul and I got married during the pandemic but were unable to have a ceremony or celebration, so we are really looking forward to that next Spring.
“We are all systems go and the customers are excited to see us return with a bang, so I would like to again thank them for being behind us every step of the way.”
Phill John, Director of NorthWales Media, said they and other local firms were delighted to help the Red Lion return from its enforced hiatus and lay the foundations for a bright future.
He added: “This is a much-loved pub and restaurant at the heart of the community so it’s brilliant to see it up and running again.
“Amanda and her family have a great vision and we are proud to support that; I’m sure the business will go from strength to strength after such a challenging time – we wish them every success.”