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What's happening with the Red Lion

by Rob - 17:35 on 07 September 2012

Many people have stopped me in the village to vent their opinions of the direction the Red Lion is going. Many of you already know how I feel about it. I would like to make it clear that this is my own personal opinion but would like to read other people's views.

I think the heart and soul is being ripped out of our village pub.  When it first reopened it was great to go there meet up with friends, have a good drink and a good laugh, I met people and became friends with villagers whom I had never met before.  My opinion is at the moment it would be much better situated in Norwich city centre rather than our pretty little village. What do you think? Please have your say and be honest.

Comment from Gill at 18:26 on 07 September 2012.
I agree totally and it is such a shame. The food is still good, but the prices have been upped and the portions shrunk, making it a "special" visit rather than a regular one.
Comment from TONY at 16:33 on 09 September 2012.
Similar to Rob, I have also been approached by many villagers in relation to the new tenant of the Red Lion.
The price of food and drink have increased. The quality of the food is superb and I have recommended the establishment to numerous contacts, who have all come back with the same response " Good Quality" in small portions and not value for money.
What must be considered is the Government's Tax that are levied prior to a profit being obtained for a small local pub.
On being re-opened the Red Lion entertained villagers who had never met before and started to thrive it was a pub with a restaurant.
It has now become a restaurant with a bar with little committment to the local community who all wanted a village pub !
A "local" needs community support so let's help the proprietor by letting him know our views....Special Deals..Theme nights etc
Without our support the survival of the Red Lion could again be compromised.
Comment from Claire at 09:20 on 12 September 2012.
Well having been pointed in the direction of this conversation (Thank you Tony)I would like to add a little myself. Having worked at The Red Lion since day 1 and being a 'local for 37 years' I feel I may have a little say myself! Yes, The Red Lion after being closed for 5 years, rose from the flames in November 2011 and for a while it was all looking good, then things changed!! Having been heavily involved with the running of the pub I can tell you for certain that it would never have continued to survive the way it was being run!

As in any good dining establishment, diners are always given many opportunities to tell us if everything was okay with their meals/experience, this is the point where they can speak up for themselves! As I am there for many shifts I can honestly tell you that I have never been told that there was not enough food and it wasn't good value for money. Like the old saying goes "If you like what we do, tell others if you don't, TELL US" There is nothing like feedback for a business to continue and grow.

One thing to remember is that the pub is still open and it will remain so for the foreseeable future so we look forward to welcoming you as always any time soon.
Comment from Lucy at 23:37 on 12 September 2012.
I'm not sure what is going on here, there's clearly some noses out of joint but I don't really know why. My personal opinion is that I really like the Red Lion and think the new menu is a big improvement on the previous one. We went there for dinner last night and the food was excellent (and the portions were ample - having had a starter I couldn't finish my main course and had no space for pudding, even though it was lovely and the pudding menu was very tempting, I was stuffed. And anyone who knows me will tell you I don't have a small appetite!).

I don't go to the pub all the time - maybe a couple of times a month, but haven't noticed any change in atmosphere since the pub first reopened at the end of last year - it still seems just as friendly and welcoming. I think it's a really nice pub and the prices are reasonable and comparable to other good pubs. I suppose some "special deal" nights like Tony suggested might be a good idea both for villagers and the pub to get bums on seats on weeknights when it is quieter. E.g. Curry and a drink for £X on Wednesdays or whatever, if that works for the pub and is profitable. If I knew there was a regular special deal on a certain weeknight I might be tempted to go slightly more often and I'm sure others would too. Has anyone talked to the people running the pub to suggest this? Probably more likely to have an impact if several people talk to them directly about these kind of ideas (rather than messages here which they might not see), I'll try and remember to suggest it next time we go.

One thing I would say in relation to Rob's first message about meeting other villagers in the pub - we don't know that many people in the village apart from our immediate neighbours (we've lived here 3 years but we work full time, get home late, and are often away at weekends so miss most of the community activities, as much as we'd like to join in), but I've never made friends with villagers I'd not met before from visiting the Red Lion. When we've been there we've often spent quite a bit of time in the bar trying to be friendly and say hello to people, hoping to get to know other people from the village. But everyone seems to stick to talking to their own group, except for maybe a "hello", and it's always been like this under both sets of management. I don't think this is anything to do with how the pub is run though, the staff are lovely and extremely friendly and we always chat to them. It's just difficult to get to know other villagers who haven't met you before from a trip to the pub (unless you have a mutual friend who can introduce you), and people in the pub are usually (understandably) wanting to talk to the people they already know. I'm not sure what answer is to this one - maybe some kind of regular activity like a quiz or club of some kind that meets in the pub once a month would help people get to know each other more?

Hope to see some of you in the pub soon - do say hello! :-)
Lucy (and Ian) Yates, Dukes Lane.
Comment from Rob at 10:24 on 13 September 2012.
Can you clarify for me is the Red Lion a dining establishment or a local village pub that does good food? Unfortunately most people do the British thing and don't complain at the time. I did have a quiet word with the landlord a good while ago, told him all the feedback good and bad. The price of beer did come down all for 2 weeks and then went straight back up again. When one local did mention this he was told to go elsewhere in no uncertain terms. Some villagers do like to have a drink later in the evening, how can they now when the pub(eating establishment)is either closed or they can not pay by card because the staff have cashed up at 10.20pm. What will happen to the Red Lion in the winter when people don't travel out as far due to bad weather? I bet the locals and drinkers will be made more welcome then.
Comment from Richard.W.D.Willings at 12:03 on 17 September 2012.
I think the bottom line on this is, the pub is predominately a restaurant and not necessarily pointed at the village as what was possibly expected. The bar, which would be my home, is not necessarily a cup of tea of personal choice. I prefer a more traditional setting. The Nissen hut bar is less than attractive, but there you are. The emphasis is dining. Having offered my opinion I will probably drink elsewhere. I wish him success in his venture.
Comment from at 15:38 on 18 September 2012.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s start by engaging the brain, something that is not happening with some previous comments (this part of the sentence deleted Ed.). We have a pub that’s been closed for 5 years; (this part of the sentence deleted - Ed.). We then have David, who took the pub on preventing a certain closure. David is a very successful publican and business man with two other successful public houses in Old Buckenham and New Buckenham; you might suggest he has the winning formula and the correct acumen to make our Red Lion a very special pub. Drinking pubs do not survive in this current climate; it’s the food that pays the bills, in this case the Red Lion can cater for both. I would like to take this opportunity to thank David, Claire, Ben and all their staff for all the hard work they are doing to keep this pub open. I do know that head Chef Ben is already putting into place theme nights, so there is much to look forward to. Let’s ignore the negative remarks and keep using our local.

(NB. The above comment has been edited as it came from an anonymous contributor and certain parts were considered to be inappropriate and possibly libellous. Ed.)
Comment from Rob at 15:45 on 19 September 2012.
In reply to David's fan club.

First, David did not prevent the pub from closure. Claire and staff were doing a grand job plus there were other parties interested in running a VILLAGE PUB.

Second, what works in Buckenham does not mean it will work in Caston.

Third, if food pays the bills BUY A RESTAURANT not a pub. The Red Lion could cater for both if it was to stay open. Last night I walked past at 10.10 pm and the place was in darkness.

As for engaging the brain a lot of villagers have done just that. They bypass the Lion and go up the Waggon which do good food and beer at a sensible price. Oh, and there are plenty of people in there which creates a good atmosphere.
Comment from Ian at 10:27 on 22 September 2012.
Anyone looking at this blog, just go to the original "Plans for the Red Lion" blog.
As was I, look at how excited everyone was to have our VILLAGE PUB re-opening. Good wholesome reasonably priced food, with a couple of slightly more expensive selections on the menu for that special occasion, a good selection of real ales, lager, wine and more at a competitive price. Maybe the odd quiz night here & there a theme night every so often and a landlord & lady that knows your name, your drink and welcomes you with a smile. Well that's my idea of a local village pub anyway and that's what we got for the first 6 months of the re-opening, although the landlord was short lived!
In a town it's fine to be known as a drinking pub, a family pub or a fine wines and foods establishment, you have a choice. A good VILLAGE pub should be all of these. You only have to look at the Waggon & Horses in Griston they lead the way in running a VILLAGE pub.
I am afraid that David is going totally against the grain for village pubs. In my own opinion drinkers are not welcome, it is no longer some where to pop in for a quick pint or bite to eat, it is a once in a while place to go with good food although overpriced and limited choice, along with overpriced drinks. I was in the bar on a Sunday afternoon when if I hadn't spoken up, a couple with a child of around 9 or 10 yrs would have been turned away, so not family orientated. What happened to working with CAMRA and pub is the hub, that's all gone down the drain. Countless times I have come home from work in the evening around 9:30 to 10 and the pub has been in darkness.
It is so annoying that in order to meet up with other Castonites I have to bypass the frequently deserted Red Lion & go into Griston. However, no matter how little or much you spend at the Waggon you are always made welcome!
Comment from Sue at 12:14 on 22 September 2012.
I think that there are other really good eating places in the vicinity and what might work in Old Buckenham and New Buckenham I personally do not think will work here due to other already really well established pubs/restaurants - tell me who is going to eat here in the ice and snow when there are other pubs so close. I wanted to run the Red Lion and to make it part of village life and I feel that who ever looks after the pub needs to bear this in mind as I feel that is the only way it will survive and the owner really needs to think about loyalty and start to value returning customers, which I don't believe is happening.
Comment from Robin at 21:59 on 27 September 2012.
I agree with Ian and Sue, the Red Lion is now a restaurant, with a bar open to non eaters,very nice it may be but a pub for regulars it is not, the Waggon and Horses does both very well.
Comment from Jeff at 10:59 on 21 October 2012.
In my view the Red Lion provides a very pleasant venue for a meal out but I feel that some attention needs to be given to the preparation of the meals. No problems with prices or portion sizes but they lack the little extra one hopes to find when dining out. As a foodie, I feel that although cooked well, the meals we had tasted quite bland and could have benefitted from better seasoning. Also the waiting times for courses were rather too long.
Comment from rob at 15:25 on 03 March 2013.
told you:
Comment from Rob Summers at 09:07 on 01 April 2013.
What a pleasure for me to be able to say something nice about the Red Lion. I popped in yesterday (Sunday) for a quick pint and WOW the place was packed both sides with residents and visitors having a really good time. The place was buzzing. I enjoyed myself so much catching up with some people I stayed a lot longer than planned (oops!) Give it a try you get a nice smile and warm welcome when you walk in.
Comment from Alan at 09:37 on 28 April 2013.
Can't agree more with Rob, the place is now warm and inviting, the new licensees are a joy! It's a pity that these positive remarks are at the bottom of the blog rather than the first thing you read which is negative as to how the Red Lion now is!
Comment from Susan at 15:43 on 11 August 2013.
I popped into the Red Lion the other day after someone told me it had been done up and thought it was lovely. If I lived in Caston I would be very pleased indeed to have a pub like that to go to for a drink or meal. Most villages now have either no pub or very dated pubs that are a hub for heavy drinkers and not comfortable places to go to.
Comment from Edward at 09:12 on 12 July 2014.
Well sadly the naysayers have got their wishes and Phillip and Victoria have moved on, leaving it to lurch downmarket and soon go bust and boarded up again.

Why can't people get it into their heads that rural "villagers only and drinking only" pubs are simply not viable anymore. Before Phillip and Victoria came in, anyone not born and bred in Caston was distinctly unwelcome at the Red Lion - and you wonder why it was boarded up and rotting for 5 years!

Such a loss to the area.
Comment from Mark at 11:43 on 23 January 2015.
Things have moved on well I say and Ian and Denise are doing a great job with the pub...good food, superb beer, good atmosphere and it is gradually getting busier again. Would be even better if a few more of the locals actually supported it more regularly!

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