Last year Huw and Ruth Griffiths took on The Bell Inn, a country pub located in the Warwickshire village of Ladbroke, two miles from Southam. After refurbishment, The Bell Inn reopened on 22nd August 2013. One year on, Huw talks about their experiences so far at the pub and their plans for the future.
What drew you to the property?
Although we knew Warwickshire quite well, we had not come across Ladbroke before and certainly hadn’t been to The Bell. We came to hear about the pub through family and thought it was definitely worth checking out.
Our first impressions were that it was a lovely village, quintessentially English with the thatched cottages and character properties as well as the old church. The Bell Inn, although looking a little tired, impressed us. We were aware it had done well in the past but had struggled whilst under the ownership of Punch Taverns. We could see huge amounts of potential so were immediately interested.
What did you do with the property when you took it on?
The pub had not had much TLC for some years. We were also informed that at one time it was actually boarded up. Much of the work we undertook was cosmetic, there was a fair amount of cleaning to be done as well as fixing or replacing equipment which hadn’t been well maintained. My wife Ruth came up with the interior décor scheme, injecting life into the bar and restaurant with the use of colour, soft furnishings and new lighting, to mention but a few elements.
We were very ‘hands on’ with the revamp of the pub, doing most of the work ourselves with the help of family and some tradesmen. It was hard work but looking back, good preparation for the coming months!
The kitchen was also in quite a state and needed a total deep clean. Much of the equipment either needed an overhaul or to be replaced. It was well worth it though, as it has enabled us to cater for our busy weekends, events and parties. We were awarded 5 stars from the Food Standards Agency so the effort and expense paid off.
What else have you done since?
Since opening The Bell last August we have tackled the grounds around the pub, clearing overgrown borders, taming the lawns and adding new planting and flowers. It is only now that the pub is looking pretty but we still have plenty left on the ‘To do list’.
There is also a patio area at the rear of the building. The paving slabs have been repointed, new fencing installed, new furniture and parasols added, as well as more planting. It really has been transformed, we are glad we have had such lovely weather so far this summer and people have been able to sit out there and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.
What are you offering?
We serve fresh, seasonal food prepared by our talented chefs. During the week we offer a Prix Fixe menu which is amazing value for money – 2 courses for £11.95 or 3 courses for £15.95. This menu is available lunchtimes Tuesday to Friday as well as on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Our traditional Sunday roasts are also proving to be very popular. We have three roast joints on each Sunday, served with all the trimmings and real gravy. Our menus can be viewed on our website.
Plans for the future
We have previously hosted a wine tasting evening, pairing wine with food. This proved to be a great success so we are looking to host another in the near future. We also have Burger Night every Wednesday, offering a selection of burgers made from prime cuts of meat. Our burgers have become very popular. We hope to be able to introduce another feature night on a monthly basis.
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The Bell Inn blog is updated by Ruth.