A bar owner determined to survive the devastation wreaked on the hospitality industry is branching out into retail and opening a new bottle shop.
Over the past two years, Joseph Patten has launched two bars in Stockport town centre, the Cracked Actor last year and the Glass Spider in August.
Currently Joe can only seat half of the drinkers he used to, to allow for social distancing and has had to reduce the number of days he opens to keep the venues viable.
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But he is focusing on finding ways to keep his staff in work, and keep the business afloat.
He was already in the process of opening a dedicated bottle shop when it emerged earlier this week that the government is likely to order hospitality venues in the north of England to close from Monday.
The new shop, which opens late next week, will specialise in hard to find beers, and will offer a delivery service.
Before bars were allowed to reopen, he operated Cracked Actor as a pop up bottle shop for a time, but now has a dedicated unit for the new shop, which will be called Breaking Glass Bottles, next door to the Glass Spider.
He says that the 10pm curfew was already hitting bars hard, and is determined to try to give his business some stability, particularly if they won’t be able to open next week.
Joe said: “What the hell can we do? We’ve already adjusted so much.
“The Cracked Actor is down to three days a week, we used to be six, but it’s too expensive. I’m trying to give my staff the hours and not lose any of my team.
“The bottle shop is small but we will do deliveries, so I can give them a few days a week to work”.
He was planning to host an ‘American takeover’ event in his bars next week, but with it looking increasingly unlikely that it will be able to happen, beers he imported from New York for the event will be among the stock sold in the shop instead.
Joe added: “Both bars are hanging on for their lives, we are just trying to get to the end of the year.
“By having the bottle shop, we can move staff around, give them hours.
“Under normal circumstances it’s something that would work really well in Stockport town centre anyway.
“Everyone is having to adjust, but there is only so much you can do to adjust who you are. It’s all just to pay the bills now, I’m not making money any more, it’s crazy.
“The 10pm closure has battered all of completely, I’m just doing everything I can to keep people in work until next year”.