Saturday, 18 September 2021

I’ll turn loss-making pub around, says new landlord

A FORMER parish councillor has taken over the lease of a pub.

A FORMER parish councillor has taken over the lease of a pub.

Anthony Ewen, 50, is the new landlord at the Bottle and Glass pub in Binfield Heath.

He has replaced Graham and Jill Hughes, who left the Brakspear pub this week, saying they had lost more than £35,000 in the past year.

The couple accused locals of not using the pub and said they would not miss the “politics” of the village.

Mr Ewen, of Deanfield Avenue, Henley, said: “I’m here for the community. The goal is to give the pub back to the people.

“We will be doing better quality food and will be having barbecues and beer festivals in the garden. We will also have beer straight from the bottle and a bit of light entertainment. It’s exciting times, especially with the summer coming up.”

Mr Ewen quit his position on Goring Parish Council in 2011 to defend a criminal charge of which he was eventually acquitted.

South Oxfordshire District Council accused him of operating as an unlicensed taxi driver after he was caught by enforcement officers in a test operation in 2010.

Mr Ewen, who used to own Golden Taxis, was initially convicted and fined £400 but this was overturned on appeal. Two years before that, he was embroiled in a custody battle over a horse after separating from his wife.

Mr Ewen said: “I’ve got my life back now. It has been difficult getting up and running but everything is looking up.”

He used to run the Granby pub in Reading with former England manager Terry Venables and claims to have been the first landlord in the country to have obtained a 24-hour licence when he ran the Pack Horse at Chazey Heath.

He was most recently temporarily in charge at the King William in Ipsden while it was in a period of transition between leaseholders.

Brakspear asked him to revive the fortunes of the Bottle and Glass after this successful tenure.

Mr Ewen said: “We turned the business around and the company was very happy.They had already sold the tenancy to someone else before I came in for a couple of months so they asked me to take over this pub. Now I’m looking forward to turning this place round.”

Meanwhile, a Henley pub re-opened on Good Friday with new tenants following refurbishment.

The Bull has taken over the former Ko-Ko bar in Bell Street, which shut in January.

Brakspear, which owns the pub, says the refurbishment has preserved the building’s heritage but added a contemporary feel.

It includes glass walls to maximise light and low sofas for informal gatherings. Outside, a large patio has booths for drinking and dining.

General manager Tuesdee Dixon said: “It’s a great venue, just what Henley needs. It’s a comfortable place where you can either come in for a drink or a meal.

“It has been hard work getting it together but the team that did the work has been amazing”.

The pub will be serving food throughout the day and has taken on chef Wayne Pegler, who worked with Marco-Pierre White at his Canteen restaurant in London.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “The Bull has been one of Henley’s best-known pubs for centuries and it has been a joy to restore it.

“We’re confident that it will quickly become a favourite among residents and visitors.”

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