A YOUNG couple have taken over as tenants of the Plowden Arms in Shiplake.
Matthew Woodley and Ruth Peters, who are both 29, say they want to attract more customers from the village to the Brakspear pub.
Mr Woodley, who has worked at restaurants owned by Gordon Ramsey and Lawrence Keogh, will be head chef while his fiancée will be front of house.
The pub will serve old-fashioned dishes such as fish pie, pan haggerty and bachelor’s pudding. Miss Peters said: “The Henley area has an abundance of pubs and we’re hoping to offer something different. We thought what was missing from the pub world was traditional pub food because everything seems a little bit too fancy these days.
“However, we don’t want people to think this is a food-only pub and we don’t put pressure on people to eat.”
The couple, who met when working in a bar 12 years ago, were engaged in July and live above the pub. It is the first pub they have leased after deciding it would help them spend more time together.
Miss Peters said: “We both had busy lives and the way our hours worked we never got to see each other. We first talked about getting a pub in 2007 and we found out we had this one in May.
“We’ve done a lot of studying and have worked our socks off, coming in at 5am and working through until 1am to get the place ready. Most of the reaction so far has been good.” Miss Peters plans to call on villagers and invite them to the pub.
She said: “There’s something nice about introducing yourself to people by knocking on doors and we’re hoping to welcome back some familiar faces.”
Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “ Matt’s outstanding culinary skills and Ruth’s talent for front of house are a winning combination and we’re confident they will quickly turn the Plowden Arms into a popular pub.”