The Plough in Norwood Green is a grade II listed building and known to be Fuller’s oldest pub. Ushma Patel and Derek O’Brien, who took over as landlords in 2009, tell us how they’ve managed through the coronavirus pandemic.
Tell us about the Plough
We are a small family run Community pub. People describe us as a country pub in an urban setting. Chilled and laidback, the atmosphere lends itself well to being an extension of people’s living rooms.
We really are at the heart of the Community with St Mary’s Church opposite, two schools only meters away, Osterley Park (National Trust Park) and lots of walking routes leading to the pub.
We pride ourselves on our diverse customer base. We attract the young to the elderly, from every diverse ethnic group with all levels of abilities and interests.
Thursdays are our new Fridays with our famous Burger Night when people can have a burger, chips and a drink for £12
There is never a dull moment in the pub. We run live music events, most Fridays, Sunday lunchtimes and have a jam session every Tuesday. Before COVID we had a Christmas Market for three years running, with 15-18 stalls from local artists and small local businesses and charity led initiatives. Christmas 2019 (before COVID-19) we raised a total of £460 for Ealing Winter Night Shelter from Santa’s grotto, our annual Gentlemen’s Bake Off and contributions from one of our stall holders, £480 was raised by one of the stalls for a Brain charity and £150 by another stall for a cancer charity.
Just before the first lockdown we were still in the swing of supporting local charities and causes – We raised about £350 at our International Women’s Day live music event, for Women’s Wellness Zone, based in Southall. We got local business involved by donating prizes for a raffle and we ended the event with an auction of a beautiful pair of earrings donated to us.
How has the pandemic impacted your business?
It’s had a huge impact on our business in obvious ways such as loss on income etc. Although the doors have been shut for business, there are still bills to pay, which is challenging when there is nothing coming in.
We have also had to invest a lot of money into reopening each time we have been allowed to reopen with the various restrictions. For example, we have had to erect tents and outdoor heaters to provide cover from the elements. This on top of the extra running costs i.e. extra staff needed for table service, cleaning products etc. The footfall of the business has also fallen dramatically with the social distancing in place, shorter opening hours i.e. 10pm curfew and restrictions to the number of people and households being allowed to gather. All our events were put on hold and the Christmas season, the busiest period for our business, was a complete washout.
However, most importantly, the impact of the pandemic has been unmeasurable to many of our customers to whom the pub provides a lifeline.
Adapting to the pandemic
We adapted our indoor and outdoor space to enable us to trade under the everchanging restrictions. Installed new till software and trained our staff to use remote terminals to be able to take orders and serve people away from the bar. We’ve carried out risk assessments, reviewed them and trained staff to work in new ways such as table service.
During the first lockdown we also delivered to our locals, fresh produce rom our meat supplier. This helped us to serve the community and allowed us to keep in touch and check-in on some of our customers.
What makes Ealing special?
Its diverse culture makes Ealing very vibrant. There are lots of live music venues in Ealing and so many things going on i.e. the jazz festival at the Drayton Court, the monthly Vintage Market on The Avenue, monthly jazz at The Grovesnor and at The Grey Stoke. The summer festival at Walpole Park.
Why should people support local?
We are always keen to shop local. We may be able to buy at John Lewis, but if a local small business sells the item we want then we will always most definitely support the small local business. They provide a personal touch that larger businesses don’t. As a small business ourselves, we appreciate the challenges small business face and how hard they work to keep afloat
What are your favourite places in Ealing?
Pitshanger Lane high street, Walpole Park, Northfields Avenue and all the unique little shops and restaurants along there.
Visit ploughinnnorwoodgreen.co.uk to find out more.
To find out more about supporting local businesses read Welcome Back to Ealing’s high streets.