The Three Mile in Gosforth, Newcastle, has opened the outdoor area to remain within coronavirus guidelines but in order to reserve a table there punters must cough up £5. This charge isn’t a deposit, so it isn’t deducted off the final bill. The move has split opinion among locals – with some claiming it is “greedy” and others more sympathetic towards the pub, which has had to close for months due to lockdown.
The Malhotra Group, which runs the bar, has spent £7.5million redeveloping the venue in the past three years, reports Chronicle Live.
It says the charge will be removed on May 17, when pubs and restaurants can open indoors as per the Covid guidelines.
But Michelle Leonard booked a two-hour slot on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate her son’s 19th birthday with some family drinks.
The 48-year-old mum was “annoyed” the £5 wasn’t taken off the bill, and claims she only found out at the time to pay.
“I’m annoyed because if I’d have been told that, I wouldn’t have booked. If you walk in off the street you don’t pay a charge,” she said.
“I would have just turned up, or I’d have gone somewhere else.
“We were told to leave at 6pm because our booking was up. In that two hours we spent £140 and they still charged us for the table, whereas you can walk in off the street, not pay and stay all day.
“I’ve been going to the Three Mile Inn since the 1990s but I’ll never go back.”
Another visitor posted on Facebook: “It was great to spend a couple of hours in the sun at lunchtime today. Disappointed that the £5 table reservation charge was not refunded or taken off the first round of drinks. £5 to reserve a table for each visit is quite steep and not in line with other establishments.”
Another online comment reads: “If you’re daft enough to pay it, they will take it along with your eyes out of your sockets. Greedy, greedy.”
A further post says: “The £5 deposit puts me off going. I completely understand the need to charge it because of no-shows, but most other places give you it back to spend.”
But the establishment, which has recently installed new outdoor furniture, heaters, televisions and blankets, has been defended by other punters.
“Sounds like good business sense, will deter punters from booking then not turning up,£ reads an online comment.
Another states: “You can go to your own garden with friends in the same number, alcohol from the local supermarket, no table charge, no kick out time, no extortionate prices.”
A third person posted: “A fair enough charge.”
A spokesperson for the Malhotra Group said: “While we understand that a small minority of people may not be happy with the £5 charge, we are disappointed in the reaction from this minority.
“This charge is to reserve a table for up to six people– so amounts to around 80p per person. If someone doesn’t want to pay the £5 then don’t need to – they can just turn up but then risk having a possible long wait in the queue.
“We have invested around £7.5m in the Three Mile with a further £75,000 on all of the outdoor facilities we needed to open on 12 April such as stretch tents, food vendors, outdoor furniture, heaters, tvs and blankets – otherwise we would have remained close.
“This charge will be removed on 17 May when we are fully operational again. Although the restricted re-opening of hospitality is a step in the right direction, everyone in this industry still faces an extremely challenging six to 12 months and we are glad to say that the majority of our customers understand and have reacted positively to being able to see this venue for the first time.
“We are continuously investing in all of our sites across the North East and look forward to having them all fully reopened in May, with our exciting renovation of Balmbras underway, ready for opening later this year.”