Laine Pub Company shifted its operating model to become more food-focused during the pandemic – almost out of necessity, chief executive Gavin George told MCA’s The Conversation.

The Brighton-based operator has traditionally been a very experience-led business, “leaning towards wet and entertainment”, but since reopening last year food has become a significantly more important part of its offering, he explained.

“Who can forget the Scotch egg debacle, the curfews, and having to operate pubs as restaurants… and just how challenging that was for our teams,” said George. He believes his teams adapted very well, with things like the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme turning out to be a positive boost for the business.

“Since the first reopening we have learnt a heck of a lot about offering food, and about delivery and order at table. It’s changed the profile a lot,” he added.

That said, while George is confident the business can still provide a fantastic offering, he is keen to be able to get back to the kind of things that Laine Pub Company is well known for, such as cabaret, circus, immersive theatre, live music and comedy.

The business is just beginning to restart live music in some of its venues, with comedy returning soon, “albeit restricted in terms of numbers”. “We are giving it the best go that we can and introducing entertainment that people can enjoy from their seats,” he said.