The Cavern Club, UK home of The Beatles shut his doors in March as the European wave of Covid-19 was hitting Spain and Italy hard and Britain was sliding towards its own crisis.
He expected to be closed for about a month.
Five months later, the club is still shut, the firm has lost more than £600,000 (NZ$1.2 million) and 20 of its 120 employees have been laid off.
The once-thriving business, which also runs Beatles-themed tours of Liverpool and two other venues, is seeking help from government crisis funds and has calculated it can survive until March in a worst-case scenario.
But as the country adapts to a new life dominated by face masks and social distancing, Keats is due to reopen for International Beatleweek – a six-day festival.
“I hate the phrase ‘new normal’, but you’ve got to look at your business differently,” Keats said ahead of the reopening that he hopes will prove the club can adapt and keep its loyal fanbase happy.
“It’s a good way of us looking at how we can do that with a mixture of live music and pre-recorded sets from bands from all over the world.”
To comply with government guidelines, only 150 people will be allowed into the venue, which normally holds 500.
It will be a different vibe, said Keats, but it’s a start.
“We are closed, we are going to open, and the Cavern, ultimately, fingers crossed, won’t be going anywhere.”