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Red Lion to Close?
by michael - 17:56 on 12 September 2007
Is it fact or just rumour that the Red Lion is to close?
The Red Lion is the last remaining pub in Caston. At one time there were as many as six pubs in Caston with the Red Lion being the oldest and now the rumour is that the Red Lion is to close its doors at the end of this month.
The fact is that the Red Lion, owned by Admiral Inns, is certainly up for sale with an asking price of £500,000.
If you know more then do add your comment.
Today I spoke to Keith Howell from Admiral Taverns he informed me that the Red Lion will remain closed and that the company do not intend to take any further interest in the pub. It is on the property market and there has been some interest from another company to buy the property as a freehold public house. Being the only remaining public house in the village I feel we should show some kind of support for the prospective buyers. Your comments please
If the Red Lion wants custom, it has to earn it. It cannot expect people to spend money there just because it's local. It has to compete with the White Hart in Rocklands and the Waggon & Horses in Griston as well as The Chequers in Thompson. They are each only a short car ride away and are far superior with good parking facilities.
When and if the Red Lion re-opens under new management I'll give it a try but only once and if it fails to impress, as it did last time, then that will be the last it will see of my custom and regardless of whatever the few who enjoyed the Red Lion might think, the fact is that they are in the minority otherwise the Red Lion would still be in business.
Just take a good hard look at the outside of the place - untidy and unwelcoming. Now look at The Chequers from the outside or any of the others mentioned above. There's no comparison is there? People passing through Thompson will stop at The Chequers. People passing through Caston keep going!
We took on the pub in June of last year as a favour to the then owners, Enterprise Inns. We had already previously turned down the pub but because of a change in circumstances we were asked to take it on to prevent its closure. We were running the pub as ‘Tenants at Will’ not full leaseholders. Simply explained this meant although we paid a deposit and paid in full for the stock and glass on ingoing, these were both refundable on us leaving. It also meant we only had to give one month’s notice to leave instead of having to sell on the lease to another tenant. The disadvantage of this arrangement was that any money we put into the pub ourselves was not recoverable.
Over the last 15 months or so despite the best efforts of our regulars who have also become very good friends and who we are deeply grateful to, the pub has consistently made a loss, year to date alone of around £10,000. We have had to subsidise this from our own savings as well as having paid nearly £3,000 rental for fixtures and fittings both of which were lost money to us.
When the pub freehold was bought by Admiral Taverns in September last year we had high hopes of them spending a substantial amount of money on the pub since they even brought us plans drawn up for a complete makeover, including the eyesore of an exterior. However, as time went on we heard nothing more about these plans and infact had very little, if any, contact from Admiral Taverns. Eventually, after constantly leaving messages asking for information we were told they weren’t willing to spend the amount of money involved or in fact, any money at all!
So the situation has been that we have had to pay a substantial amount of rent weekly as well as being tied to Admiral Taverns for purchase of the beer at a mark up of around £30 per barrel even though we were making a loss. We are perfectly aware that our neighbouring pubs, The Waggon and Horses, White Hart and Chequers are much smarter pubs both inside and out and do considerably more business than the Red Lion, but all of these pubs I believe, are freehold owned, so the licensees don’t have the same ties for beer and expense of rent. They are free to do what they want with their pubs knowing that any money they spend on it will be recouped if they sell on and they don’t have landlords to answer to.
We knew we couldn’t compete with these pubs, but in an effort to at least continue running the Red Lion for our customers we asked our Area Manager for a rent reduction to try and ease the amount of loss. This was refused and we felt unable to continue running the pub at a loss with no financial or moral support from our landlords. But we were assured a new tenant would be taking over the pub on our leaving and the pub would not close. It was only on the day we handed over that we found out a new tenant was not moving in and only a caretaker would be on the premises. We had been lied to and worse was the ludicrous decision taken by Admiral Taverns to have the pub standing there closed and making them no money rather than reducing our rent and at least making some!
If Admiral Taverns had only been willing to meet us at least halfway and given some financial support we would still be there, likewise if more people from the village had supported us instead of knocking us for not having the time or finance to ‘do up’ the outside we may have been in a better position financially to make the pub more attractive.
Whilst the pub itself may not have been to everyone’s liking, we attempted to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, using the very limited funding available to us, something which we believe was achieved, but we were fully aware of the need to spend vast amounts of money on the place to make it more attractive to a wider range of customers.
Once again, we would like to thank all our customers for their loyalty, friendliness, and for welcoming us into their community, all of which made our stay at The Red Lion, a happy, socially rewarding experience.
Someone who moans about everything and nothing behind an alias. Moving to a small country village we thought people were more sociable and tried to help each other out - sounds to me like certain people think they are better than others. Just hope they don't need the help of the villagers for anything in the future.
(Editor's Note: Unfortunately this person did not give their name)
Please note that without the comment of A. Nimby, we would probably not have had the comprehensive response from Linda & Ron.
If there are any more comments I'll be pleased to publish them.
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