Operators take individual approaches to mark Queen's funeral

By Shwetali Sapte

- Last updated on GMT

Operators take individual approaches to mark Queen Elizabeth II funeral

Related tags Hospitality The queen

Operators are preparing plans to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II on Monday (19 September), with some voicing concern about setting the right tone during the period of mourning.

While many of the biggest pub groups have chosen to remain open to serve customers and offer the public a place to gather, others have spoken about the nervousness caused by expectations surrounding brands.

One senior operator told MCA​, BigHospitality​'s sister site, there was concern in the restaurant sector about setting the right tone during the period of mourning, and not playing any music that would be felt too jolly, for example.

Will Beckett, CEO of Hawksmoor, announced on Twitter​ on Tuesday (13 September) that the steak restaurant group will remain open during its regular trading hours, suggesting that operators can mark the period of mourning in a myriad of ways.

“If you want to shut, so you/your staff/customers can grieve or take part in an important national moment, then you should,” he tweeted. “Just try not to make it sound like you are ‘showing respect for the Queen’ and implying that those doing differently are not.

“If you want to open, and feel staff need to work and people need to eat or drink, then you should. Just try not to make it sound like you are doing so in order for your customers to ‘pay their respects to the Queen’ and implying that those doing differently are not.

“Grief, even national grief, is personal. There are few ‘right’ ways of grieving, and few established ‘correct’ ways of being respectful. The Government have specifically issued guidance saying it’s your choice.

“Respect for the Queen (to me) suggests tolerance to how others feel or behave, however they grieve (even ‘whether’ they grieve). No one should feel that their quiet, respectful decisions are being thrown out for public judgement on social media. There is no ‘right’ answer.”

Many pub operators have chosen to remain open to promote a sense of togetherness and allow their customers a place to grieve, such as Stonegate Group, Fuller’s, Punch Pubs & Co. Some of the latter’s properties, such as the Red Barn in Shrewsbury and the Woolpack Inn in Yeadon, have announced they will provide free tea, coffee, and snacks for customers.

“As a high number of our pub estate is leased and tenanted, we’ve followed government guidance and advised publicans they are welcome to open at their discretion,” said a spokesperson for Punch Pubs & Co. “Many of our pubs appear to be opening and using the opportunity to bring the community together to watch the historic event and celebrate the life of Her Majesty.”

Star Pubs & Bars will allow licensees to mark the day in whichever way they see fit, while Fuller’s, which has c400 pubs across the country, said it expects all pubs to remain open on 19 September.

Lawson Mountstevens, managing director for Star Pubs & Bars, said: “The Star Pubs & Bars’ estate encompasses a wide variety of individual pubs which are leased to independent licensees to run as their own.

”Licensees will be working to choose the most fitting and appropriate way for their pubs to pay their respects and mark this sad occasion. This will include which opening hours will best meet the needs of their local community on the 19th September or whether to close.”

All JD Wetherspoon venues remained open last week, with the operator yet to take a decision on its plans for 19 September, according to a spokesperson, while a spokesperson for Greene King said the operator is similarly deciding which of its venues will remain open.

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