Norwich's smallest pub loses half its lunch trade due to Tier 2 rules

Aey Allen, owner of The Vine pub and Thai restaurant in Norwich, said she had lost half of her lunchtime trade due to Tier...

Aey Allen, owner of The Vine pub and Thai restaurant in Norwich, said she had lost half of her lunchtime trade due to Tier 2 restrictions. Picture: Louisa Baldwin - Credit: Archant

The owner of Norwich's smallest pub has expressed her frustration at the Tier 2 restrictions, with the substantial meal rule leading to her lunchtime trade being cut in half.

And Aey Allen, 49, who has run The Vine in Dove Street for the last 12 years, said she had been "tested" by customers hoping to avoid the restrictions, forcing her, in one case, to take a drink off a visitor.

It comes after businesses were urged to stick to the restrictions by public health officials in Norfolk

Under the Tier 2 rules, pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol alongside a substantial meal and only single households can sit together indoors.

Aey Allen, owner of The Vine, celebrates her 10th anniversary.Byline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant

Aey Allen, owner of The Vine, celebrates her 10th anniversary.Byline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant 2018 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

While the majority of her customers in the evening come for food, before the second lockdown she had 10 to 20 regulars that would come in at lunch each day just to drink.

As the smallest pub in the city, as well as an authentic Thai restaurant, social distancing has also heavily impacted the business since it reopened in July, with 20 covers lost in the upstairs dining area. 

Ms Allen said: "We have regulars at lunchtime that come just to drink, but since the restrictions we have lost half of our trade.

"We are half restaurant and half pub so we don't just rely on food and have been in The Good Beer Guide for 11 years. 

Aey Allen, owner of The Vine, celebrates her 10th anniversary.Byline: Sonya DuncanCopyright: Archant

There has been a drop in trade at The Vine pub and Thai restaurant due to the substantial meal rule under Tier 2 guidelines Picture: Sonya Duncan  - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"Before the second lockdown, things were ticking over and we knew what we were doing with restrictions, but now I've never been so confused in my life.

"If we opened a year or two ago I would have probably packed up."

Inside The Vine pub and Thai restaurant in Norwich, which has been heavily impacted by the Tier 2 restrictions Picture...

Inside The Vine pub and Thai restaurant in Norwich, which has been heavily impacted by the Tier 2 restrictions Picture: Louisa Baldwin - Credit: Archant

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Ms Allen said she had already been "tested" by customers trying to come in for just a drink and had to take a half pint of shandy off one customer who didn't want to eat, while another ordered food but left it.

Despite the hardships of the last year, it is her loyal customers that have kept her going and she has encouraged the lunchtime drinkers to come for a coffee instead.

Ms Allen added: "I can't thank my customers enough for their support and they have become like family." 

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