LANDLORD Leo Johnson is optimistic about the future of his business following the return of drinkers to his pubs in Oxford.

Mr Johnson is co-owner of Dodo Pub Company, which runs The Rusty Bicycle in Magdalen Road, The Rickety Press in Jericho and The Up In Arms in Marston Road.

“It certainly wasn’t the great British bender some people thought was going to happen,” said Mr Johnson.

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“People are returning cautiously and we had a steady flow of customers through the door on Saturday and Sunday.”

Let us know your pub of the week.

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Bar manager Dominic Simon

Mr Johnson said drinkers have clearly been enjoying a return to their locals, even though their usual routines have been changed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Numbers are limited and people can sign up to the pub’s track and trace page on the pubs’ website either before they arrive or once they are there.

As they queue up outside staff on the door direct them to their allocated table.

Mr Johnson said drinkers have not expressed any reservations about signing up for the track and trace system which can share information if someone in the pub is shown to have contracted the virus.

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He added: “Everyone is allocated a table based on their party size and there are clear instructions from members of staff.

“Staff have screens at the bar - our business model is based on people ordering at the bar - I think it would be unaffordable to offer complete table service.

“We are working on an app which will allow people to order from their table.”

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Mr Johnson said the pub company has had to increase its staff in order to manage the new safety guidelines but is confident that as more drinkers return revenue will increase.

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He added: “It’s a definitely a good feeling to be able to reopen and people are enjoying coming back.

“People seem quite happy to sign up for track and trace - it’s something everyone has to do and I don’t think it’s too big an ask.

“We want to make sure that the pubs still feel like your local and we feel confident about the future going forward.

“As custom increases we can increase our opening hours.”

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Mr Johnson said the pubs are offering a ‘reduced’ menu of burgers and pizzas and are not offering brunch.

At the moment the pubs are not opening on Monday and Tuesday and are running from 5pm on Wednesday to Friday and noon to late on Saturday and Sunday.

The pub owner said he was delighted with the measures put forward by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to encourage people to go out.

In August the eat out to help out deal means people can get up to £10 off per head if they eat out from Monday to Wednesday.

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Mr Sunak also said VAT on hospitality and tourism would drop to five per cent.

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The reduction, from 20 per cent, will be in place for the next six months.

Mr Johnson said: “It’s great the Chancellor did this and it will encourage people to come out by reducing the cost. When people go to the pub and come back safe and healthy they will acclimatise to the idea that it is as normal as it was before.”