Monday, 20 September 2021

Village pub can’t make profit, says ex-landlord

A PUB in Whitchurch which closed without warning is no longer viable, according to its

A PUB in Whitchurch which closed without warning is no longer viable, according to its former landlord.

Nick Baker, who took over the Greyhound in High Street in the autumn, says he was forced to abandon the business because he was struggling to make a profit.

At the time of the closure, he made no comment but now he has posted an apology on the pub’s Facebook page.

Mr Baker said: “Due to financial circumstances, I have had to close the Greyhound. I am sorry to let you down but the pub is not sustainable.

“Thank you to all my customers and everyone I have met. It has been a pleasure and your support has been appreciated.”

Mr Baker, who is originally from London, is the third landlord to leave the Greyhound, which is owned by Punch Taverns, in the space of two years.

Bob and Carole North left in 2014 and were replaced by Ruan Keegan, who quit last summer.

At the time he moved in, Mr Baker said he specialised in turning around struggling pubs and was confident he could make it a success.

He refurbished both the interior and exterior of the pub before re-opening it.

Punch, which put the Greyhound up for sale when the Norths left, says it plans to keep it open as a pub and is seeking another landlord.

Whitchurch Parish Council has nominated the pub to be listed as an asset of community value.

If South Oxfordshire District Council agrees, this would prevent it being sold on the open market without first giving the community six months to compile a bid.

The district council turned down an identical request two years ago on the grounds that there is another pub, the Ferryboat, in High Street.

However, the parish council argues that the Ferryboat is more like an upmarket restaurant than an everyday social hub.

Councillor David Bowen, who is a regular at the Greyhound, said the business had thrived until the Norths left and blamed poor management of the pub.

He said: “It has been run into the ground. The pub used to be really busy — you could never get a table for food and there were loads of events on different nights.

“We’ve been going to that pub for years and most of the people I know in Whitchurch are people I met in there.

“It’s a very important part of village life and we need to do whatever we can to keep it.”

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