Cross Foxes Pub
A North Wales pub owner transforms inn into a community shop to help locals during lockdown.
Faced with numerous challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, wife and husband Janet and Tim Costidell turned their traditional village inn into a community shop and a delivery service to help those who most need it during lockdown. The entrepreneurial family has benefited from the ongoing advice and support of the Welsh Government’s Business Wales service first to take over the pub in 2013 and subsequently to develop it into a successful village inn and a community hub.
Introduction to business
The Cross Foxes Inn is a historic pub, dating from 1780 and located in Nannerch near Mold. Having originally housed its own brewery, over the years, the Cross Foxes has not only served as a pub, but also as a butcher’s and a post office.
Owners Janet and Tim Costidell took over the inn in January 2013 and have since created a traditional, friendly village inn, as well as a welcoming hub for the local community.
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
Initially, we decided to start our own business because our beloved village pub was in trouble. Twenty years beforehand, we relocated from London to the North West because of Tim's job. We were in rented accommodation in Rhuddlan and agreed to meet friends, who had also relocated, in a tiny village pub. We sat in the window seat and saw that the house opposite was for sale; we viewed it and bought it, because we loved the pub and the area. I got a job in the pub shortly after and have stayed there ever since. Two children and 26 years later, and we are still there! The pub was in trouble and we could not allow it to close, so I offered to rent part of the building from the landlord, and that's where we are today.
What challenges and opportunities did you face due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
The challenges during Covid-19 have been enormous. When we had the announcement that pubs must close, the community rallied around with support, which was amazing. We spent a few days printing leaflets and offering help to all the elderly and shielding members of the community. We offered to collect prescriptions, shop from our wholesalers for people and deliver hot meals.
We then decided to open a pop-up shop in our function room. We have a bottle display fridge for outside functions, which we utilised to stock all the essentials. We operated a socially distanced queuing system, which worked very well. The takeaway/delivery food service was very well received – we were so busy! We started baking scones and cakes on Thursday mornings, the queue for these wound along down the road!
When we were allowed to re-open outside, we created a grid system with line marking paint on our car park and beer garden, and placed the tables within the grids, so that they were all at the correct distance for safety, while continuing to offer a takeaway service. Unfortunately, we found that table service would be extremely expensive to operate, so I contacted the Environmental Health Officer and they agreed to let our customers approach the bar from a distance, which was a huge relief. We have also erected a marquee, donated by one of our customers, which will improve our seating capacity.
Business Wales support
Business Wales helped us enormously in the beginning. I had no idea how to do my own bookkeeping. I also had no idea that setting up as self-employed and starting a business was so simple – without Business Wales, it would have been a much more daunting process. We have had continuing support from our advisers, especially Carol Williams, which has been invaluable.
Future plans and ambitions
Our plans for the business mainly revolve around the Welsh Government's Covid-19 policies. We will continue as we are, but we are in the fortunate situation of renting our property. I very much feel for those in tied houses and those who own their pubs with mortgages – that must be very frightening.
Overall, this has been a very difficult time, so I'm not sure anyone in the hospitality industry, especially small rural pubs, can afford to have a long-term plan in the current climate.
If you want to read more success stories of how Business Wales has helped other people like you to start or grow their businesses, visit https://businesswales.gov.wales/case-studies or follow @_businesswales / @_busnescymru on Twitter.