Early closing could spell last orders for micropub

A MICROPUB owner may be forced to close in three months if he fails to secure extended licensing hours to capitalise on passing trade.


Worthing First Micro Pub. Nigel Watkins in the pub
W37604H13 Worthing First Micro Pub. Nigel Watkins in the pub

Nigel Watson, 56, of Anchored in Worthing, in West Buildings, Worthing, feels restricted opening times are preventing him ‘making a living’.

He has appealed to Worthing Borough Council to open later at night, as opposed to shutting at 8pm each day.

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He said: “I have probably got another three months before things get really quite serious, financially.

“The real-ale drinkers who come in tend to come out at about 7pm, so by the time they come into town I am closing. I’m missing out.”

When he opened in August last year, Mr Watson was given strict opening hours of 12pm to 2.30pm and 5pm to 8pm daily.

It was the first micropub in Sussex but, since then, planning permission has been granted for micropubs in South Farm Road, Worthing, and in Church Street, Shoreham.

They have been allowed to open until 9.30pm and 9pm respectively.

Mr Watson said: “I am just about covering my costs at the moment, but I am not making a living.

“If I get extra hours, the income stream will go up a little and make it profitable.

“I’m not doing this to make a lot of money but I want to be able to enjoy the little things more, such as being able to afford to go to the theatre.”

Informal meetings have taken place with licensing officers and Mr Watson is hopeful he will be able to secure the improved conditions.

Ideally, he would like to open until 10pm, which he believes will have no negative impact on people living nearby.

He said: “I wouldn’t want to open any later than about 10pm and we don’t attract any bad behaviour.

“It’s horrible to have to say to my customers that it’s time to go.”

If he were to be successful, Mr Watson is keen to run more themed evenings and a pub quiz, to draw in customers.

Impressed with a busy programme of summer events in the town, he also sees this as a golden opportunity.

He said: “I was genuinely surprised with how much was on.

“I thought it was going to be a bit redundant in Worthing over the summer but there were a lot of people coming here.

“I’ve got to be able to attract those sorts of people.”

The micropub concept is a no-frills, small establishment, selling locally sourced real ales and wines.

There are around 40 scattered across the country, with many of them based in Kent.

But Mr Watson explained that they were becoming increasingly popular, with dozens in the pipeline to open across the country in the coming months.

He said: “Nobody is going to make a fortune, but it is a viable business prospect.

“I welcome the new micropubs opening, which I hope will increase interest.”