From beauty to beer: businessman ready to revive village pub
- Credit: James Neale
A village pub which has stood empty since March is set to reopen when the second national lockdown lifts, under new management.
The White Horse pub, in South Lopham, near Diss, has been taken over by a new owner who is determined to make the business thrive.
Businessman James Neale, from Shimpling, has taken on the mammoth task of opening his first pub during a pandemic but said he could not think of a better time to do it.
The 35-year-old said: “I had previous worked with the owners of The White Horse with my creative agency.
“I really liked the pub, it had a nice feel to it, great beers, beer garden, lots of live music and it was doing really well.
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“But when the first lockdown happened, I found out that the pub had closed down and wasn’t going to reopen.
“So I got back in-touch with the owners and they were really keen to get it open again and not have it sitting there empty - so now I am leasing it off them.
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“Yes, it is a crazy time to do it but there is a lot of help out there at the moment and there are ways of adapting. But I’m not expecting it to be easy.”
Mr Neale, who is also the owner of Glo hair, beauty and tanning in Norwich, as well as a creative agency, Clikk, said it has been a “tough year” for business, as he has was once again forced to close his salon amid the second national lockdown.
But during the next month, he will be focusing on refurbishments in the pub with the hope of opening during the first weekend in December.
He said: “There aren’t a lot of people who would take on a pub at the minute, but I look at things slightly differently because I have been in business for 11 years and I have been through tough times already.
“My salon will have been closed for a total of five months this year but you have to think positively.”
He added: “Pubs are at the heart of every community, and it’s more important than ever to keep them going.
“I think a lot of people are keen to get back out and support their local pub.”