How a pub in south Warwickshire has transformed its outdoor space to help boost business during the pandemic

The move will also create new jobs during a tough time for the pub industry

Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:59 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 10:00 am

New jobs are being created after building work has been completed at a 19th century south Warwickshire pub.

Pizzas will be on offer at The Antelope Inn at The Green in Lighthorne after an old shed at the back of the kitchen area has been removed and replaced with a pizza oven to provide a takeaway service.

Owner Tom Lilley decided to make the move after the success of its takeaways from its general menu during Covid-19.

From the left, Adam Plumb (CWLEP Growth Hub), Alison Robinson (Warwickshire County Council and Tom Lilley (The Antelope Inn). Photo supplied

After talking to Adam Plumb at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub, he referred to Warwickshire County Council’s Survive, Sustain and

Grow programme and assigned tourism and hospitality specialist Andy Woodward.

Andy evaluated the business to understand the challenges from the pandemic to assess options for sustaining and developing the business when the pub was able to re-open.

The results of the support showed that a takeaway service was becoming increasingly popular during the March to June lockdown.

Andy recommended that Tom capitalise on the opportunity and pursued this option with the assistance of grant from the Survive, Sustain and Grow programme.

Tom was successful in applying for a £10,000 grant from Warwickshire County Council which he has matched for the building work to be completed, kitchen equipment bought and other supplies purchased to run the takeaway.

Once the pub can re-open in line with Government regulations, two new members of staff will be joining the 11-strong team at The Antelope Inn.

Tom said: “We closed the takeaway service in March 2021 so that we could pull down the old shed and install the pizza oven and equipment and all the work associated with that.

“We decided to do this because during lockdown our takeaway orders were strong and we realised this could be another revenue source.

“Receiving the grant has been a big help and means that we will also be able to employ another chef to cook the pizzas and another member of staff to take orders.

“We have finalised the pizza menu and are going to be producing artisan pizzas using a sourdough pizza dough and fine ingredients for the toppings and we are going to be offering this takeaway service seven days a week.

“The Growth Hub and Warwickshire County Council have been fantastic. I spoke to Adam about what we would like to do and he put me in touch with the County Council who got Andy, one of their specialist consultants, involved.

"Andy reviewed the business and suggested applying for a grant which has been really helpful.

“We’re looking forward to re-opening and enjoying a slice or two of pizza now!”

Mark Ryder, strategic director for communities at Warwickshire County Council, added: “This is a wonderful example of how we were looking for the Survive, Sustain and Grow programme and related grants to work.

"It is about not just helping small businesses to continue to operate in the short term but also to help them to branch out and evolve so that they can continue to flourish, contribute to the local economy and offer local employment opportunities.”

Adam Plumb, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “It has been tough for many businesses throughout the pandemic but particularly those in the hospitality and leisure sector."

“The Antelope Inn in Lighthorne is a popular village pub and by deciding to permanently offer a takeaway service for pizzas by refurbishing a redundant outbuilding, Tom will also be creating employment in the area.

“The Growth Hub is here to provide advice and help with a wide range of information and support just like we did with Tom so I would urge businesses to get in touch to see how we can help them.”

For more information about the County Council’s Survive, Sustain and Grow programme, go to: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/SSGFor information about the wide range of business support available in the sub-region, go to: https://www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk/