The Chichester girl behind city’s 18th century ‘boozer’ | Vicky Meets

Vicky meets... Catherine Morgan, co-owner of The Eastgate pub in Chichester.

• Are you a local girl?

I’m Chichester born and bred. My family has a long history here. Peter Weston was my grandfather and he has a road named after him. Peter was mayor in the 1960s and he started the Liberal Democrat party in Chichester.

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• How long have you been at The Eastgate?

The Eastgate pub owners Catherine Morgan and Emma Allen

It was the first pub I ever drank in and I’ve worked there since I was 18. I worked in different jobs, but I was always at The Eastgate part time too. When a new landlady asked me to become manager I did. When I was 28 I had the chance to take it on completely and Emma and I joined forces to run it.

• What do I need to know about The Eastgate?

It is 18th century and used to be a brewery years ago. It became a pub in 1929. Pub culture is an integral part of British life and we are a proper welcoming ‘boozer’. The friendships and relationships that grow from here – marriages and the births of children – are lovely to watch. Lots of students work here and they always come back to visit. It’s a community pub with a heartbeat and strong friendships.

• How has the pandemic impacted on pubs?

The lack of socialisation has impacted on us all and that human connection and social interaction is what makes pubs. Not all pubs will be able to reopen. We were doing okay when lockdown hit and had a bit behind us, and also our overheads aren’t as big as others. But pubs in a different situation may not make it. That’s really sad.

• Do people come in especially for the social aspect?

You celebrate and commiserate everything in pubs. Plenty of my customers come in for food and a chat, not to drink. Pubs offer the chance to engage. I get a lot of older men who come in alone, but who meet up with others for a half and a chat.

• Will you reopen on May 17?

We hope so. It will be table service and we’ll be following all the guidelines. We have to make sure people are safe. But we will get back and, eventually, we will celebrate all those birthdays and anniversaries that have been missed.

• Is live music is a big part of The Eastgate?

I have started to book my bands in again, in the hope that we can get back to that soon. Local live musicians have really felt the knock-on effect of pub closures.

• Where do you stand on the idea of pub passports?

It’s ridiculous and impossible for pubs to police.

• How do you deal with ‘over refreshed’ customers?

We’re pretty good on that. We have a great team and our regulars are always brilliant support if anyone steps out of line. My maiden name is Mitchell so I am asked to give a ‘get out of my pub’ now and again!

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