Villagers claim their 16th century pub which has just undergone a major refurbishment after being sold and boarded up four years ago may never reopen.
They suspect the staggering £85,000 a year being demanded for the lease of The George in Maulden will mean it can never be profitable.
And they fear that if nobody is prepared to take on the business then permission will finally be given for the site to be redeveloped for yet more housing.
One poster on the local Maulden Voice Facebook page said: “No wonder village pubs are struggling.”
Stuart Billington wrote: “Need to take £4k a week – not gonna happen, is it.”
And Julie Sheppard added: “Perhaps he (the developer) can then apply for residential planning on the grounds he can’t find a landlord.”
The Christie and Co business intelligence website describes the George as a “prominent Grade II Listed, 16th Century public house” that has “undergone extensive restoration, returning it to a most desirable and well-needed venue”.
A separate self-contained barn building contains seven en-suite bedrooms.
Mike Coombes, secretary of the South Beds branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA)said: “We want to see all pubs thrive. We need to get people back into the habit of going to pubs again.
“Whoever takes on the George certainly has a big challenge on their hands because it’s been closed for so long, and it was going downhill for some time before then.
“They need to do something different to the White Hart and the Dog & Badger in the village, and the obvious thing is a high end restaurant.
“Any pub can be turned around. The proof is that all the local CAMRA Pubs of the Year over the past 10 years – the Albion in Ampthill, for instance – could easily have been labelled as the worst pub in their town and non-viable.
“With the right management and staff in place, they were turned around to be award winners.”