Inn closure will help it survive, says director

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A landmark pub in Taynuilt has announced that it will not reopen for months.

The Taynuilt Inn does not plan to reopen again ‘for the foreseeable future,’ despite the return of tourism and lockdown restrictions being eased this month.

Making the announcement on the inn’s Facebook page, area operations manager Mark Lambson said it was ‘with a heavy heart’ that the decision had been made.

The inn, on the busy A85, had been shut for more than two years before being completely refurbished and reopened last summer after significant investment.

The coronavirus pandemic then shut it down with a number of staff having to be furloughed.

Businessman Calum MacLachlainn, one of the directors overseeing The Taynuilt Inn Ltd, told The Oban Times this week that the temporary closure was a strategic decision to save the pub longer term.

The alternative was incurring larger costs and then struggling through half a summer before going into winter when tourism dips, he said, which could make the business unviable, particularly with concerns about a second wave of coronavirus in winter.

Mr MacLachlainn, originally from Mull and brought up in Uist, is involved in a number of different enterprises from Oban to Mull, Fort William and the central belt.

He has partnerships with fellow businessman and restaurateur Paul Sloan, a co-director of The Taynuilt Inn.

Mr MacLachlainn said: ‘After trading all winter to effectively go into another winter without a proper summer it is not viable. All we do is we will just have to mothball it until next March.

‘The costs to mothball are limited but the minute you open the costs go up and because of those costs you will go backwards and put the company at risk, he said.

‘If it was to open in winter there is a very high risk it would not open again in March. I have never been involved in any business that has gone into liquidation and I don’t intend to start now,’ he said.

‘A lot of seasonal businesses do not make a lot of money during winter and you can’t survive on two (winters). We have only been trading the Taynuilt Inn for a year and a half so we are still in the early years and the first three years are harder than normal.’

Mr MacLachlainn pledged that the business would be back – barring another coronavirus lockdown later in the year.

Originally a 16th-century coaching inn, The Taynuilt Inn saw major investment and had hoped to appeal to the golfing market, being close to the nine-hole village golf course, along with courses at Dalmally and Glencruitten in Oban.

Brander Lodge Hotel, at Bridge of Awe, Taynuilt, also announced it too plans to stay closed ‘until further notice’.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the family-run property said it was ‘unable to recommence trading at this time,’ but would continue to review the situation, with it possibly reopening in March 2021 to coincide with the Spring wedding season.

The statement, signed by the Keats family, said ‘the dangers of the pandemic’ coupled with ‘disruption to the business’ was behind the decision.