BOSSES at pubs and restaurants in East Renfrewshire have told how they are hoping for a brighter festive season this year...after suffering their own ‘nightmare before Christmas’ in 2021.

A ‘stay at home’ message issued by the Scottish Government a year ago in response to a surge in Covid cases decimated takings for many local businesses.

Many revellers ended up cancelling Christmas bookings as concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant meant it was beginning to look a lot like lockdown.

With no such restrictions in place this festive season, hospitality venues are hoping to be quids in, although there are fears the current cost-of-living crisis could mean potential profits end up going down the drain.

Jonathan Wengel, owner of the Cross Stobs Inn, which is one of Barrhead’s busiest pubs, said: “Business is good, bookings are brilliant. However, electricity costs are brutal. Our bill is four times what it used to be, so we’re having to work hard to keep things going.

“We’re a community pub and don’t want to close but it’s hard and we may have to go to part-time opening as a last resort.

“If we put up prices, people won’t be able to afford to come in but Christmas bookings are excellent and we’ve got a singer and piper to bring in the Bells on Hogmanay, so everyone’s looking forward to that.”

Sandra Kirk, who runs the Kelburn Bar, also in Barrhead, said she is grateful to her loyal customers for supporting the business.

She added: “It’s hard. Our suppliers are putting prices up on everything and energy costs are higher but we just have to get on with it.

“Businesses need some government help, either with VAT or rates. Our prices haven’t gone up yet but a couple of breweries are increasing their prices, so that will have an impact next year.

“We’re coping but we have good days and bad days. People are being careful with their money, especially as they don’t know what their utility bills are going to be like, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

“Luckily, we have good, regular customers.”

Barrhead News: James and Neil SmithJames and Neil Smith (Image: Newsquest)

James Smith, who owns the Uplawmoor Hotel with his husband Neil, is looking forward to a busy Christmas.

“Recently, because of the economy, there’s been scaremongering and people are not going out and spending,” he said. “There had been a bit of a dip, so we ran a ‘two courses for £10’ promotion in November and were absolutely mobbed every day with regulars and new customers.

“It wasn’t a money-maker but allowed our customers to try out the new menu from our chef.

“Staff and customers are looking forward to a good Christmas and I think that, if we all support one another, we’ll get through the cost-of-living crisis.”