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Boss aims to bring string of village pubs back to life

Pub and restaurant to employ 200 people

Pub boss Johnny Alderson has high hopes for village pubs
Pub boss Johnny Alderson has high hopes for village pubs

A pub company boss is on a mission to save struggling village inns and bring communities together. Johnny Alderson, of Hoathbased Big Ten, has just re-launched the Hop Pocket at Bossingham, having already transformed the Abbot’s Fireside at Elham. He plans to continue building up the business, eventually creatlug a portfolio of 10 pubs over the next five years and 200 new jobs. Known as Geordie Johnny, the 52-year-old businessman said:

“Our aim is to identify properties that can still bring communities together. We want to breathe life back into these special places that we are sadly losing at an all too alarming rate.”

Johnny left his long-time berth behind the bar at the Prince of Wales at Hoath early last year to manage the Abbot’s Fireside, which had been threatened with redevelopment, and is still closely involved in its day-to-day running. But since the company axiuired the Hop Pocket in November, he has put his own individual stamp on the pub. He said:

“Sadly many pubs are disappearing, but the success we have had so far at Elham and Bossingham shows that if you get the right formula, there is still a bright future for the industry. Of course, that also means employment prospects, and we anticipate employing around 200 local people when we reach our target number of premises. We are looking to create a collective of establishments which can double up as both pubs and restaurants. The food offering is essential to the success of our business and the emphasis is on simple foods, which as well as including what is traditionally termed ‘pub grub’ can also cater to a higher level of cuisine. It’s essential to cater for everyone — to be all things to all people, but at the same time to understand your roots. We have customers driving out to the two premises, a strong local trade, and a number of local clubs and organisations use the Hop Pocket as a regular meeting place. It is essential to get the right balance of food, drink and atmosphere. We think wehavegot this right and it is the way forward to reverse the trend of pub closures.”


The Duke William in Ickham
The Duke William in Ickham

The owners of a historic village pub are back behind the bar after the tenants terminated their lease Ryan and Kate Coleman, from Herne Bay, had run the Duke William at Ickham for several years but left on Wednesday last week. Now owners Michael and Nicola White have taken charge again, having previously run the business for more than five years. They also own the Red Lion at Hernhill. Nicola said:

“We ran it very successfully before and are not making any significant changes. It will be the same family business serving wholesome, affordable food, and we will be open every day except Mondays.”

Herne Bay Gazette, February 5th 2015

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