Coronavirus crisis: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks owed thousands of pounds for food deliveries
- Credit: Archant
Some of St Albans’ most vulnerable residents risk losing vital food suppliers because their affluent neighbours are not paying their bills.
Historic pub Ye Olde Fighting Cocks has been weathering the coronavirus lockdown by delivering fresh produce across the city.
Because the pub cannot trade under the current environment, it has been operating as a Pub Community Supply Point (PCSP) limited company.
But while most customers have been recompensing them for their goods, a staggering 20 per cent have failed to pay.
Landlord Christo Tofalli says the pub is now owed nearly £3,000, which risks putting their delivery service out of business.
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He said around 80 per cent of their customers are vulnerable and in self-isolation, and depend on their food deliveries to survive as online supermarket orders are almost impossible to arrange.
Christo told the Herts Ad: “Many of these can’t wait to pay and are chasing us which is a wonderful feeling.
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“Sadly a massive 20 per cent have not returned calls and and not picked up any of the phone calls we have made, having already left messages.
“We are all volunteering and the pub staff have been working up to 18-hour days to provide what is an essential service for many of the vulnerable people we know.”
He highlighted one example: “We had one lady in a very nice house who ordered over £200 of fresh meat and veg, and when we called to take her payment she said she only had £18 in the bank.
“Obviously we can’t take it back because it could very well be contaminated. That brought our volunteers to their knees.” Now Christo fears the actions of the few will have a detrimental effect on the many, and could mean the final nail in the coffin for the pub’s delivery service during an already critical time.
“We are in real danger of not being able to stay open as we are owed nearly £3,000 from people who haven’t returned calls.
“I accept our lines are busy from time to time but no way all of the time. It’s not as if people have a lot to do and are getting on with busy work schedules.” The cashflow shortfall has already taken its toll on next week’s deliveries.
“As it’s Easter weekend we will need to wait until next week before we can begin to collect any more payments. That may tip us over the edge.”
UPDATE: Following the Herts Ad article the majority of people have contacted the pub to pay their outstanding bill.