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Struggling Aberdeen bar offering free meals in desperate bid to stay afloat after losing thousands during lockdown

Bar supervisor Rebecca Greig at The Office / Halo Bar, Crown Street, Aberdeen.
Bar supervisor Rebecca Greig at The Office / Halo Bar, Crown Street, Aberdeen.

An Aberdeen bar is offering every customer a free meal in a desperate bid to stay afloat amid tough restrictions on drinking alcohol indoors.

The Office Sports Bar on Crown Street is handing out the complimentary food to all punters so they can drink indoors without added cost.

It is hoped the promotion will help the independent business make enough cash to stay open as owners fear they won’t survive another lockdown.

It comes amid regulations against the consumption of alcohol at indoor hospitality venues unless purchased with a meal.

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But owners hope it will also serve a charitable purpose in allowing people hit hard by the pandemic to grab a hot meal while only paying for a drink.

The Office had to throw out between £5,000 to £6,000 worth of stock after the national lockdown and another £1,000 worth was lost during Aberdeen’s local shutdown.

Bar supervisor, Rebecca Greig, said: “It has been really hard being an independently run business just now.

“During Aberdeen’s local lockdown there was a lot of concern we wouldn’t be able to reopen.

“If there is another lockdown, and things don’t pick up with the business, then we’re not really sure we could reopen.

“Although this offer is to encourage people to come into the bar and drink, it is for people who can’t afford to eat out.

“It’s also getting much colder and not a lot of places in Aberdeen have outdoor heaters.”

The owners are currently putting in a lot of their own cash in an attempt to keep the business running but say this situation can’t go on forever.

Bar staff were also hit hard by the drop in custom as many were students on zero hours contracts, and unable to claim extra benefits.

How does the free meal offer work?

With a decrease in  Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) funding this year, working shifts in the pub is vital to their income.

During quieter times only one member of staff was working each day – creating just seven shifts for the full team.

With the free meal promotion, staffing has already been increased back to two workers per shift and it is hoped custom will continue to rise.

As many people have lost their jobs during the pandemic and experienced a change in circumstance, the team don’t want anyone to feel ashamed of not being able to pay for something they once could.

The bar is also hoping to reach families who need some leisure time but couldn’t afford to go out for a meal.

Miss Greig added: “It is free and cheap. Our drink prices are on the lower end so it is affordable to come, sit inside and have a drink.”

The promotion offering free mash, sausage and beans to every customer is expected to run until temporary legislation banning indoor drinking without a meal is lifted.

The pet friendly bar is also handing out free doggy bags filled with treats for customers who bring their dog, an an extra incentive to lure in more trade.

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