A hugely popular pub is to close after rent and electricity prices made business unsustainable for the landlord and landlady.
Shekhar and Alex Nailwal have run the White Horse in South Hill, Droxford for eight years but will be leaving at the end of September.
The pub, which dates back to the 15th Century and is owned by Admiral Taverns, specialises in Indian food, making it a distinctive venue for diners. Its takeaways were popular across the Meon Valley.
Shekhar and Alex, who have two sons at local schools, made the pub an important part of the local community and hosted fund-raising events including for the local primary school.
Shekhar said: “We will be saying our last goodbye and it’s heartbreaking. We’ve been trying to convince the brewery to reduce the rent and tie as the business is suffering with higher fixed costs and as a small family-run business can’t sustain it as the sales have been affected due to the inflation and rising electricity and gas have almost doubled in costs.
“All my efforts to cut a deal to survive was the goal so we can manage this recession but it failed and I have no other option but to give the brewery notice.
“We have been trying our best to keep the business afloat for the past two years and with the help of our regular customers we did manage to come out of the pandemic but this recession is crippling and we have no answer to it.
“Business has not been the same since the pandemic – its up and down like a heartbeat and it has always been difficult to manage the unpredictable consistency.
“We will be trying our best to keep the doors open till the end of September and then I have to lay us off and the staff of The White Horse. Please support us till then as we are still liable for the overheads and rent.
“Me and my family are very grateful to the Droxford residents, that we have been given so much love and affection that we feel part of a big family and separating from a family is never easy.”
Local people have reacted with sadness. “This is very bad news,” said one local. “Shekhar and Alex have worked so hard and it is really sad that they are having to leave. The big pub companies have a lot to answer for. They don’t care about communities and people, just about squeezing money out of hardworking tenants.”
Alex and Shekhar are having a Leaving Sale on Bank Holiday Monday, August 29th, of house and garden possessions, including kitchenware, seasonal items and garden furniture and are generously donating all proceeds to Droxford Junior School, via its parent-teacher association, FODS.
Admiral Taverns, which owns the pub, is already advertising the pub to prospective new tenants and describes Droxford as having “a high proportion of wealthy homeowners in the village and surrounding area.”
Even if the pub does reopen in the future it will almost certainly lose its distinctive cuisine. Admiral Taverns says a new tenant will “need to embrace the challenge of transforming the menu away from the current Indian basis to a more traditional food menu, to encompass a wider customer base.”
(c) Meon Valley Times 2022