RUNNING a pub pre-Covid was tough enough – now its got even harder.
Landlords have been faced with seemingly one crisis after another, from Brexit and then lockdown and now, and arguably the greatest threat to many pubs, the sky-rocketing price of energy.
One could be forgiven for wondering why anyone in their right mind would even want to run a pub in this day and age, but fortunately they do, and the revitalised Granville Arms in the village of Barford, is a prime example of why.
The once thriving Wellesbourne Road pub has not had the best of reputations in recent years, but new landlords Mark Williams and Tim Sidwell, who have been friends for over 17 years since they worked together at The Howard Arms in Ilmington, have set about turning around its fortunes since taking over last December.
The Granville Arms, which it is thought has been serving customers since sometime in the 16th century, could almost be a blueprint for all that is expected of the great traditional British country pub. That is all very well, but the 21st century customer expects 21st century comforts.
With that in mind the pub has undergone a complete refurbishment – one perfectly in keeping with its long history – and an upgrading the cellar system.
The spacious garden has not been forgotten and has been transformed with a new outside bar area and a wooden pergoda.
Mark and Tim, who founded Ghost Inns Ltd, are determined to make the Granville the beating heart of the village while also making it a destination for customers from surrounding towns and villages.
They have started by handing over the running of the kitchen to the vastly experienced Carl Aspinwall. Carl is a chef who speaks with a genuine passion not only for cooking, but also as a long-time resident of Barford, for The Granville Arms. He is as determined as anyone to see its once fine reputation restored.
And he is certainly playing his part, having developed a menu, using fresh locally sourced ingredients, which features pubs classics (fish & chips and steaks) alongside more inventive dishes (Haddock en papillote and panfried lamb’s liver), together with a range starters and puddings. They also offer lighter basket meals, the likes of scampi, chicken goujons and garlic mushrooms,
Breakfast is also served Friday and Saturday, and a traditional Sunday lunch is available in the autumn/winter/spring months and BBQs in the summer months.
This is a busy kitchen – one which is a step up from general county pub grub – but diners can rest assured that whatever leaves it meets Carl’s exacting standards.
The Granville offers excellent food in relaxed surroundings, and at very competitive prices and with first-rate service.
The bar offers a wide range of ales and spirits, together with a small but carefully selected wine list.
That would once have been enough for many pubs, but now they need to go above and beyond
The Granville does that by offering a range of entertainments in The Barford Barn – an extension of the bar. It plays host to an increasing range of entertainment. Future events include live music, a clairvoyant and a comedy drag act.
There’s also a regular quiz night on the second Thursday of each month.
Tim said: “We are delighted to have brought our experience and passion to The Granville Arms and revitalised a tired village pub.
“It’s been our aim to make the local community and the wider area proud and to give everyone a pub they can love whether its popping in for a half pint of ale or enjoying a three-course meal.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors and putting The Granville Arms firmly on the culinary map as a destination pub in Warwickshire.”
Visit www.ghostinns.co.uk for further details.