A CLACKS pub which opened just days before the first Covid lockdown hit is beginning to turn the corner amid easing restrictions.

McGregors, on Alloa's Primrose Street, managed to navigate the woes of the coronavirus pandemic with Saturday afternoon entertainment starting to bring people into the pub from near and far.

Donna McGregor, who runs the pub with husband Gary, spoke to the Advertiser after Clacks MP John Nicolson launched a consultation for businesses on Covid recovery.

The Ochil and South Perthshire representative explained how he is seeing many businesses are beginning to recover, but added that “for many others times are still tough”.

Hospitality businesses previously shared how restrictions have been particularly hard-hitting, airing feelings of frustration and worry when pubs were ordered to close across the central belt during October 2020.

At that time Donna explained how she felt the family-owned pub fell through the cracks of the government support net.

She and husband Gary, who has been self-employed all his life, spent 11 months renovating the premises, only opening the pub for a few days before the first lockdown hit.

It meant they had no books and income to show to the government and were thus not eligible for many avenues of support.

They did receive some smaller grants through the council and Donna added: “The good thing is we own the place and we own the flat above as well.

“That was the difference in helping us stay open, if we had to pay rent to a landlord we definitely wouldn't have made it through.”

It has been a stressful time for the duo and Donna often questioned whether it was the pandemic that drove business down or if they simply made a bad investment.

Restrictions having eased, the owners are finally more confident in answering that question, with their Saturday afternoons and evenings, which see live entertainment at the pub, starting to become busy.

Donna said: “We noticed a big difference on a Saturday, right now we are fully booked for seats two or three weeks ahead, which is great.

“But there was a point when we didn't know if it was the pandemic, if we've done the right thing – it was very stressful, but it's turning around now.”

Some customers still remain cautious and many are still under the impression that booking is a must, but that is not the case.

The pub, which innovated during the pandemic by offering takeaway cocktails for garden parties and similar, is still only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but a seven day opening was never the plan.

Catering to a niche with entertainment on a Saturday afternoon, Donna reckons McGregors is starting to capture customers who would traditionally have taken the train to Glasgow on Saturdays for the same experience.

“They are loving the fact we have entertainment on in the afternoon, it's definitely picked up”, added Donna.

Wee County MP John Nicolson explained he has launched a consultation for businesses to hear how they are coping.

MP John Nicolson launched the survey to hear how businesses are coping

MP John Nicolson launched the survey to hear how businesses are coping

He said: “We live in unprecedented times, hammered by the ongoing impact of Covid, the economic harm caused by Brexit, and the impact of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“They’ve all combined to increase the cost of living, affecting almost all of us.”

The MP added: “As restrictions have eased in Scotland, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the businesses in Clackmannanshire, Perthshire and Kinross-shire.

“I am glad to see so many begin to recover.

“But I know that for many others times are still tough.

"To help give you the opportunity to tell me how your business is coping, I have launched a Covid Business Recovery Survey on my website.

“I would be grateful if you would take the time to answer a handful of questions.”

Visit osp.scot/surveys/ for the survey.