Future of Bristol cat pub described as 'an institution' uncertain as bills pile up

Luke Daniels, who is landlord at the Bag O' Nails Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

A pub in Bristol famous for being home to more than a dozen cats is fighting for its survival.

The Bag O' Nails in Hotwells is home to 14 cats, but the coronavirus pandemic coupled with a "monstrous" pet food bill and "mounting debts" mean its future is uncertain.

The pub's landlord Luke Daniels has set up a fundraising page in a bid to secure its future.

The Bag O' Nails was unable to open on April 12 like many others across the UK, due to a lack of outside space.

Mr Daniels hopes to welcome customers again on May 17 - when indoor hospitality can resume as part of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

But even after this it could still be an uphill battle for the pub with restrictions hampering its trade.

The costs of caring for 14 cats have piled up for the pub's landlord. Credit: BPM Media

Not only is the pub having to pay spiralling rent and running costs while it remains closed, but it also has to cover food and vet costs for the 14 cats who live there.

The St George's Road haunt is much-loved for its no nonsense approach and selection of real ales as well as its resident moggies.

A crowdfunder launched by assistant manager Andy McWilliams on Wednesday 28 April has already raised more than £13,000 towards its target of £23,000.

Mr Daniels, who is currently refurbishing the interior, said: "I'm a bit overwhelmed at the response so far to be honest.

"Some people have donated hundreds of pounds which is absolutely crazy. We just thought a few regulars might chuck in a fiver here and there.

"I had no idea people across Bristol saw the pub as an institution, so it's been pretty humbling so far and I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has chipped in. I owe each and every one of them."

More than £13,000 has already been raised to save the pub. Credit: BPM Media/Bristol Live

Throughout the most recent lockdown the pub ran a beer delivery service by bike to keep it afloat, but demand dried up significantly when pubs reopened.

Mr Daniels said while he was "grateful" for Government grants, they don't come close to covering the pub's running costs - which are in the region of £1,500 per week.

Outlining the need for the crowdfunding campaign, Mr McWilliams wrote: "Unfortunately the time has come for us to admit that we need a bit of help.

"My worry is, with mounting debts and in spite of the Government grants, the strict distancing restrictions in such a poky little pub and high outgoings of our monstrous cat food bill just might finish us off.

"This is why I'm asking if you can lend us a hand."

The pub has rent arrears of around £15,000 - which is what the initial funds raised will be used to cover - and has spent roughly £8,000 so far this year on taking care of the cats.

Mr McWilliams added: "If you can spare what you would have spent on a visit to the pub, had you been able or even just give this a share we would be so grateful."

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