"This might be our last Christmas in the family home" - Mojo bar chain owner laments the closure of the hospitality industry

The boss of one of Yorkshire's best known bar chains has said the hospitality industry has been 'hung out to dry' during the pandemic.

Thursday, 31st December 2020, 4:45 pm

In an open letter to the hospitality industry, Martin Greenhow, managing director of the Mojo chain, said that the industry had been 'sacrificed' and 'singled-out' during much of 2020.

Since March bars and restaurants have been forced to close for the majority of the time, particularly in much of Yorkshire and the North West since the introduction of the tier system.

Mr Greenhow's bars in Leeds, Harrogate, Manchester, Nottingham and Liverpool, most of which have remained closed over the traditionally lucrative Christmas and New Year period.

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Mojo bars would traditionally be thriving at this time of year.

In his letter, written on Christmas Eve and seen by The Yorkshire Post, Mr Greenhow says that he and his family may be forced to move out of their family home due to the impact of Government-imposed closures.

As of New Years Eve, all pubs, bars and restaurants in England, with the exception of the Isles of Scilly, are closed.

He wrote: "My wife and I have just finished wrapping presents and preparing the house for the big day with young children tucked quietly and blissfully unaware in bed. The realisation once again overwhelms me that this might be our last Christmas in the family home. A home I have worked all my life, to provide for my wife and children.

"From there my mind turns to thoughts of all my compatriots in hospitality facing the same situation tonight. I'd urge every single one of them to remember you haven't failed. Your business has been failed."

Martin Greenhow

He accuses the Government of having "cynically chosen to sacrifice your business, your livelihood and your future".

He adds: "A choice was made between education, main stream food retail etc, and hospitality. Hospitality has been hung out to dry. We have been weighed and found wanting.

"I've experienced failure in business before. I understand how soul destroying it feels. The feeling that you personally failed, that you completely lack worth. The invalidation of everything you have worked and strived for. It is a pain as real as any other and one more difficult to escape because the accusation comes from within.

"That isn't the situation we find ourselves in. Our legs have been taken from beneath us. The oxygen has been stolen from our lungs. The flame in our hearts of commerce and invention extinguished without a thought for our future.

Mojo

"So I repeat, regardless of how dire your situation may currently be, through all of this know that you have not failed. The current situation is an injustice perpetrated against you and against our entire industry. Regardless of the severity of the pandemic there is no morality in singling out a section of society to be sacrificed."

He goes on to say that the 2008 financial crisis, the banking sector was bailed out but that the hospitality industry had been "cut adrift like the plague ship" and questioned whether pubs and bars played as much of a role in the spread of the virus as is claimed.

He said: "In 2008, was the finance sector left to burn despite it having voluntarily doused itself in petrol and taken to playing with matches? Why then, when we are deemed, without justification or proof, to be a facilitator for the spread of an illness, an illness mismanaged by international organisations and governments no less, should we be we clearly are not.

"Even if we were, is it not more logical and prudent to support us so that we can play a part in the recovery of our economy, rather than damning us to amplify the impending future fiscal collapse.

"Perhaps a cynic would say we are simply not personally important enough to those making the choices? Perhaps the finance sector has closer ties to those making these decisions than we?

"That may well be an unjust assumption to make, but surely no more tenuous than the one that sees well over three million direct employees in hospitality and many, many, more in our associated support and supply chains deemed collateral damage in a battle against a virus.

"A battle the management of, better resembles the ineptitude and arrogance of generals in the Great War than the surgical twenty first century strike so clearly required."

Mr Greenhow concludes: "I would implore everyone in hospitality hearing or reading these words to reach for the last ounce of strength they have to stay in the fight. To stay in business.

"We have not failed but we have been failed. We are the yarn that holds the fabric of our society together and whilst at present we may be deemed inconsequential, our demise which grows ever more prescient will be felt by all, long after this virus is a distant memory.