“It was just me trying to think outside the box."
Managers of a pub in Hinckley have applied for the venue to become a place of worship, meaning that devout regulars could be back at their favourite local.
The New Baron of Hinckley, in Regent Street, has come up with the idea in an attempt to reopen despite the current Tier 3 restrictions.
Under the restrictions, pubs are only allowed to open for takeaways and deliveries.
As a result, many pubs across England are struggling to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, ‘places of worship’ are allowed to open for services and private prayer across all three tiers.
The Elmesthorpe Brewery Company, which owns the New Baron, has applied for the venue to be registered as a religious meeting place under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.
If the application is successful, the pub would be named The Church of New Baron, with patrons to be known as New Baronials.
Owner Nirad Solanki would continue to run the business as Father Niri.
Bar staff would be known as Baronnuns, with drinkers to be served Holy Ale and Niri Chicken as part of services.
The would-be church has also pledged to provide one-to-one confession rooms with Father Niri.
Mr Solanki explained that he was responsible for coming up with the idea.
He said: “It was just me trying to think outside the box. I think it’s the only way for our regular bread and butter people to meet up.
“Our pub is the epicentre of Hinckley. A lot of people depend on it, especially the older people.
“I thought if churches and synagogues can open, why not do this.
“It’s not really financially motivated, we just want to be able to get out and see people.”
The former Wetherspoon pub was relaunched after the first Covid-19 lockdown. It reopened with a flame-grilled chicken menu, using flavours inspired by Mr Solanki’s culinary background.
Mr Solanki believes it is crucial for pubs and hospitality venues to be allowed to open now during the busy period leading up to the Chritsmas.
He said the early months of the year are always very quiet.
Mr Solanki said that many closed pubs will shut their doors for good before Christmas if they are not allowed to open or if more Government support is not provided.
Leicester Mercury reported that Mr Solanki took over The New Baron in August 2018. It was relaunched with a new look in October that year.