Great Moulton pub increases capacity for safe drinking with heated pods
A pub is hoping for four timber drinking pods will help fill a “massive hole” in its bank account caused by the ongoing pandemic.
The Fox & Hounds in Great Moulton applied for permission to site the pods in its beer garden after securing a Covid-19 grant, alongside funding from freehold owners Terry Devlin and Phil and Jayne Ramsey.
The pods, which are all named after former local pubs, have increased the pub’s seating capacity by 24.
“The pods have been named The New Inn Great Moulton, The Bell Aslacton, The Boot Tibenham and The Dukes Head Wacton,” said landlord Nick Frost.
“We wanted to do something to make our customers feel like they are in a safe environment, while also being outside.
“All four pods have been fitted with a radiator fed from the pub’s central heating, lighting inside and out and an intercom phone for customers to place orders.”
The pub was given the green light for its application on Wednesday and the pods were opened to the public later the same day.
The units took six weeks to build and have already got customers talking, according to Mr Frost.
“Everyone is very keen to try them out and hopefully they’ll prove equally popular when the summer months come around,” he said. “The idea itself just sprang to mind when we were talking about customers being able to order from the bar while still seated.
“We had thought about a doorbell that rang behind the bar, then someone suggested a phone line. So we thought why not have seating spaces outdoors with intercoms to increase our capacity, too.
“We already have a children’s play area outside so it will add to that massive selling point.”
Public comments on the application were overwhelmingly positive, with villager Karen O’Brien saying: “The pub is the hub of the community and, without the business being imaginative, it would not survive due to the current climate and the pandemic.
“I fully support the Fox and Hounds in its application as the pub is a great asset to the village community. I strongly advise that permission is given so that it can make use of the land it has. My full support goes out to Nick and the team.”
Phillip Ramsay, from Diss, stated: “An innovative idea that not only adheres to social distancing, but also allows families to enjoy the opportunity to spend quality time together in a safe environment. This idea should be fully supported.”
The application was approved with three small conditions relating to elevation, colour and lighting.
The report to South Norfolk Council described the application as “justified due to the public benefit of retaining the viability of an important community asset”.
Mr Frost has run the Fox & Hounds for four years and is hopeful that the increased capacity and upcoming Christmas period will help the pub to recover.
He added: “Its been a horrible year, and this gives us a bit more hope of increasing capacity and revenue.
“There’s still a massive hole in the bank account for December without the Christmas parties, but hopefully the pub will be fine, thanks to massive local support.”