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GoFundMe page launched to save The Boat House pub, formerly The Riverside Tavern, Strood


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A fundraising campaign has been set up to save a much-loved pub from going under.

As with most businesses, the Boat House in Strood has felt the pressure of the pandemic.

Luke Gallacher hopes to be able to re-open once restrictions have eased. Picture: Steve Crispe
Luke Gallacher hopes to be able to re-open once restrictions have eased. Picture: Steve Crispe

The Canal Road pub, formerly known as The Riverside Tavern, recently underwent a £30,000 re-brand to help drive daytime sales.

However, with the lockdown and news of Medway being plunged in Tier 4, owner Luke Gallacher now finds himself in a dire financial situation.

The 34-year-old said: "It's been dreadful. Our pub, like most pubs, is not the sort of thing you can sell online.

"A lot of businesses can diversify a little bit and move online, but with pubs you need people through the door as that is how you make money.

"When we were able to open again, between July and November, our lovely customers supported us and came in as much as they could.

The Boat House, previously the Riverside Tavern, in Canal Road, Strood, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Luke Gallacher
The Boat House, previously the Riverside Tavern, in Canal Road, Strood, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Luke Gallacher

"A lot of our main trade came from the evenings - entertainment, drinks, music etc - and with the 10pm curfew we couldn't re-ignite that part of the business.

"It was really difficult, but we managed to scrape through.

"When we opened in the summer, the Covid rates had gone down, there was a bit more hope and a bit more positivity that we will get through this.

After business began to return, Luke made the decision to go ahead with developing the restaurant side of the business.

"That's why we decided to move in this direction and take the risk of changing things around by going ahead with the refurbishment.

A look inside the Boat House following its refurbishment. Picture: Luke Gallacher
A look inside the Boat House following its refurbishment. Picture: Luke Gallacher

"But then cases spiked and we went back into lockdown. I now have nothing left, no safety net, no savings, nothing.

"Hopefully this will be the last really bad part of this virus, but it's so soul destroying because we tried to make good of what we had by turning it into something great, that would operate well and make more money in line with the guidance, by using all of our money.

"If we can get through this and hang on, then the pub is amazing, it's perfect, it'll be a great place."

After seeing how much the news had affected Luke, regulars Steve and Kay Goodwin launched a GoFundMe page to help support the pub.

Kay and Steve Goodwin, at Kay's 30th Birthday party two years ago, held at the Boat House pub. Picture: Kay Goodwin
Kay and Steve Goodwin, at Kay's 30th Birthday party two years ago, held at the Boat House pub. Picture: Kay Goodwin

Steve, 33, who went to school with Luke, has been visiting the pub with his sister Kay, 31, for over five years and they now hope to raise £5,000 for the business.

Luke added: "I'm so overwhelmed, I didn't ask for them to do it, it's just so kind of the both of them to think of that.

"It's been a part of my life for 10 years, and it just showed me how much it means to other people as well.

"There has been so many people that have been to the pub, you don't realise until someone does something so kind how much they want it to be around as well."

The pub is managed by Luke's fiancé, Danny Parnell.

Luke Gallacher, left, with Kay Goodwin's son, Marcus Goodwin. Picture: Kay Goodwin
Luke Gallacher, left, with Kay Goodwin's son, Marcus Goodwin. Picture: Kay Goodwin

Kay, from Rochester, said: "Luke and Danny are the nicest people you can meet and this is the least we can do for them.

"It's like a family there, it's not just a pub, and to lose it would be devastating."

In October 2019, the pub was severely damaged due to floods only four months after Luke was met with the possibility of re-mortgaging his house to keep the business open.

The running costs for the pub equal around £12,000 in a normal month, so Luke believes they will need to hit that mark to see them through till Easter.

To find out more about the pub, visit its Facebook page.

To donate to the fund, click here.

Head to our business page for all of the latest news about businesses in Kent.

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