Some company-owned pubs lack character and individuality.
But The Crown Inn, in Bishop’s Waltham, is full of traditional furnishings and prides itself on being a cosy place which serves great food and beer.
The Fullers-operated pub had an open day yesterday where local businesses came to see whether they fancied making use of the space.
It was also a chance for people to meet and have a chat with the pub’s new manager Nigel Davies, who took over five weeks ago.
‘The place has got lots of character and there are crooks and crannies everywhere,’ he said.
‘We’re not a concept pub.
‘We get quite a bit of free rein in terms of what we can provide our clientele and it feels cosy as opposed to corporate.
‘We don’t have to offer everything the company does.
‘We’ve got a great new food menu where we’ve been able to come up with our own dishes.’
As previously reported in The News, the pub reopened in April last year following a 12-month closure.
Fullers pumped £2m into refurbishing it and former staff headquarters above the bar were converted into eight rooms where people can stay the night.
The rooms have been named after French admirals and French ships which fought in The Battle of Trafalgar.
All of the pub’s original beams were kept intact.
The pub serves four real ales and beers come from Fullers ‘own collection as well as from local breweries such as Bowman Ales, in Droxford.
Nigel, 41, said: ‘My time here so far has been thoroughly enjoyable.
‘My focus is to expand the business and work closely with the team and customers.
‘I want to ensure we constantly give everyone quality service and food.’
There are two quizzes a month – an academic one on the second Tuesday of the month and a game-show style one every fourth Tuesday.
Occasional comedy nights are held and there are plans to hold cheese and wine and beer and food tasting nights in the future.
Customers will be urged to dig deep for charity on Friday, March 15 for Comic Relief.
The pub is made up of 15 staff who help run the bar, kitchen and wait on tables.
Emily Hannant, 23, who lives in Bishop’s Waltham, has worked at the pub since it reopened.
She said: ‘I love it here. I came over from another Fullers pub, The Bishop on the Bridge, in Winchester, just because the decor and experience here is amazing.’
MEET THE LANDLORD
SOME people don’t get the chance to explore the world during their lifetime.
But The Crown Inn’s new manager Nigel Davies has had the privilege of visiting some of the world’s most spectacular locations.
He back-packed across India, Australia and New Zealand while he took time out from his previous role with hotel and restaurant company Whitbread.
Nigel, who is originally from Newcastle, said: ‘It’s great that I’ve got those experiences behind me.
‘You learn a lot about yourself, your priorities and what you want to do in life.
‘Seeing the less well-off areas is incredibly humbling.
‘I wanted to do it all using a back pack and local transport.
‘I also wanted to connect with the local people and try out the street food.’
After his year-long expedition, Nigel returned to work for Whitbread in Cornwall before getting itchy feet again.
He saw the opportunity at The Crown Inn crop up and decided to seize it.
In total Nigel has had 20 years of experience dealing with customers in the leisure and hotel trade.
‘I’m not an office person,’ he said.
‘I get a buzz from meeting new people and being able to help them out.
‘It’s all about making sure they are having a fantastic meal and great experience.
‘I get pleasure from that.
‘In the summer it will be good to develop our courtyard into a place where people can enjoy some food and a bottle of wine in the sunshine. The pub is completely different to the way it was before last year and the customers love all the changes.’