Pubs set for a revolution

The Farmers Arms: restaurant conversion plans in 2008
The Farmers Arms: restaurant conversion plans in 2008

BIG changes are brewing in Garstang’s pub trade – as speculation mounts about last week’s closure of popular The Wheatsheaf pub.

The Wheatsheaf was due to re-open today, under what could be a new management regime.

Regulars were shocked to see a notice signed by landlord Graham Lakey, which said: “Due to circumstances beyond our control, this pub will be closed until Wednesday, July 18.

“Sorry for any inconvenience, and thank you for your loyal custom.”

The intended re-opening of the Wheatsheaf today comes two days before the re-opening of the former Salvatore’s restaurant as a pub, to be known as The Farmers, in deference to the building’s former name, The Farmers Arms.

The lease of the Farmers has been taken over by the Nateby-based pub company Town and Country Inns, who have invested around £50,000 in refurbishing the premises under their Pie and Ale Company brand. Managing director Ross Wallis confirmed that a deal had been negotiated with the building owners and brewery Punch Taverns.

His company, which manages more than 20 pubs in the local area, including the Eagle and Child in Garstang, and The Grapes at St Michael’s, has also taken over the running of the New Holly, on the A6 at Forton.

Mr Wallis said: “We had been looking in Garstang at taking over another pub, but we have a very good relationship with the breweries running businesses in the town, and we were aware the building (The Farmers) had fallen into dire straits.

“We were approached by the brewery to see if we would be interested in turning it back into a pub, and hopefully we will open this Friday.”

Mr Wallis said the pub has undergone a major refurbishment, with new central bar and wine bar, dining area and beer garden.

The re-opening of the pub will also see the introduction of 15 new jobs.

Mr Wallis said, despite a number of pubs struggling in the economic climate, he was confident the pub could become a popular venue for locals.

“There is no doubt pubs have been struggling in the economic climate, but people must use it or lose it.

“The Farmers has previously had a reputation, but we want it to be clear it will not be going back to its old ways, and we have been working very closely with places in town to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“That is not where we are heading and, hopefully, over the coming months, people will come and see the changes we have made.”