Saturday, 21 October 2017

Couple happy with second chance to run village pub

THE village pub in Gallowstree Common has re-opened.

THE village pub in Gallowstree Common has re-opened.

The lease of the Reformation in Horsepond Road has been taken over by Richard Grant and Sam Murray, who ran the Crown in Nuffield for six months before it shut last month.

The Brakspear pub re-opened on Saturday after being shut for three weeks for refurbishment following the departure of former tenants James Stone and Emma Richards.

Mr Grant, 48, who will be head chef, has lived in Sonning Common on and off for 40 years and has worked in a number of pubs in the area.

His parents used to own the Red Lion in Peppard in the Eighties. Miss Murray, 26, who will be front of house manager, has worked in the Red Lion, the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row and the Rising Sun in Witheridge Hill.

The couple took over the Crown, where they were both working when Brakspear put it on the market in April after the previous tenants left. They believe their experience will help them run the Reformation, which struggled to make a profit under the previous landlords.

Mr Grant said: “We want to turn it back to what it was four or five years ago, when it was a community pub serving good food.

“We want to achieve a nice family friendly atmosphere.

“The food will be a bit more than average pub grub with classic British dishes that are all home-made.

“Having lived in the area, we know a lot of the locals and we’re hoping we know what they want.

“We will be very hands-on in the kitchen and bar every day with extra staff coming in at the weekend.

“It’s a very old-fashioned way of running a pub, where people come in and see the same faces serving them their usual drinks.”

Mr Grant said the pub was in a good position being so close to the A4074 Reading to Woodcote road and he hoped to welcome lots of families at weekends.

“The pub can hold a lot of people here and when it’s full there’s a great atmosphere,” he said.

Miss Murray said they hoped to make good use of the pub’s large garden, which has a pirate ship playground at the front.

They are to continue with regular events such as tractor rides and a log-splitting competition as well as staging live music evenings. They also hope to set up a darts team and even create an area of the garden for games of petanque.

Miss Murray said: “The Reformation is a good move for us — it’s a bigger pub with a larger local community.

“Brakspear clearly feels we proved ourselves at the Crown and are giving us this opportunity, which we’re grateful for.”

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “Richard and Sam did a great job at the Crown and we’re delighted that we were able to relocate them to the Reformation and wish them every success.”

The Crown was previously run by Paul and Sallie Adams for nine months. The tenants before them ran it for just five months.

Mr Davies said: “Sadly, it’s a sign of the times that the Crown was still unable to provide sufficient returns.

“Closing a pub is always a last resort for us but that was our only option with the Crown, which is now for sale.”

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