A popular Brighton bar is to downsize from four floors to two after its office worker customers failed to return after lockdown.
Bison Beer took over its current home at the bottom in North Road in 2018, after a string of bars and restaurants had struggled to make the location work.
But it proved a hit – until the shift to working from home during lockdown took away its customers, who have been slow to return.
Now, landlord Dan Fox has applied to turn the top two floors into two flats, and Bison Beer is preparing to shrink the operation there.
Director Jack Cregan said: “”It’s been a real challenge post-covid because most of our customers were office workers and they’ve just not gone back to work like they did pre-pandemic.
“We have worked with Dan Fox throughout the pandemic to keep all our options open, but we have now decided that it would be best for both parties to carry out the works.
“This gives Bison the best possible chance of creating a sustainable operation in the building with a rent reduction and simplified food offering.
“We will look to continue comedy and other events on the lower floors and are working with chef Sam Lambert to create a new menu once the works are complete.”
The planning application, written by Lewis and Co Planning for Mr Fox, says: “The existing tenants are currently operating at a substantial loss and are anticipating utilising an upcoming break clause in their lease. This will leave the premises vacant.
“However, with the benefit of a development strategy for the site, the tenants would be very likely to continue to operate from the remaining commercial space, reducing their rent by around 45%, allowing the business to become viable again.
“The applicant has been advised by local agents that finding new tenants for the commercial space would be extremely difficult.
“The current proposal therefore both secures the viability of the existing business, and ensures the site will not become vacant.”
The application also suggests requiring specific glazing and ventilation via planning conditions to ensure future residents are not affected by noise.
Bison Beer is launching a regular budget Cost of Living comedy night, and two for one burger deals on a Wednesday.