THE new owner of an historic pub has moved to ease fears over the future of the 170-year-old watering hole.
Punch Taverns sold The Town Brewery in Emsworth to property developer David Roberts last year.
It’s such a lovely building. It’s the first thing you see when you drive into the villageDavid Roberts
And, after more than 30 years pulling pints, landlady Lois Tibbetts is retiring a the end of the summer.
Permission has already been granted to redevelop the first and second floors into two, two-bedroom flats.
After that, the future is uncertain but Mr Roberts, whose parents owned the nearby Sussex Brewery for 20 years, said rumours that it will become another coffee shop or even a topless bar are wildly off the mark.
Mr Roberts said: ‘When we bought the building we considered opening a really nice deli with wine, somewhere you could taste the stuff before you bought it.
‘But there is also the idea of creating a brewhouse, with a microbrewery on-site. We’re not sure at the moment but I’ve heard all sorts of rumours about what people think it’s going to be – even that it’s going to be a Hooters.’
Although the building is one of the oldest in Emsworth’s high street it is not listed.
But Mr Roberts said the only changes to be made will be to tidy it up.
‘Punch Taverns didn’t spend a penny on it in over 30 years so it’s a bit of a mess internally.
‘But it’s such a lovely building. It’s the first thing you see when you drive into the village.
‘I can’t believe it’s not listed.
‘We wouldn’t change the front, except to tidy it up.’
Mrs Tibbetts said she wasn’t available to speak to The News about her impending retirement.
But the hardworking landlady is well-known for refusing to change the secret of the pub’s success.
It is traditional with no music, no food – except crisps – and only quiet chatter.
Mobile phones are discouraged.
Over the years the pub has raised thousands of pounds for local good causes.
Alistair Gibson, from the Emsworth Business Association said: ‘If it remains a pub or becomes a food-related business which will add to our individual high street, it’s a positive.’