A couple who have completely transformed the fortunes of a West Cornwall pub and put it back at the heart of the community have scooped not one, but two awards in the regional finals of the Great British Pub Awards 2010.
The King’s Arms in St Just, which is part of St Austell Brewery’s 176-strong pub estate, was crowned Best Turnaround Business, and its landlords Best Newcomers for the South West in the prestigious awards.
Brad and Molly Atherton, the couple behind the amazing turnaround, have devoted the awards to the St Just community – saying they couldn’t have done it without local support.
“We are overwhelmed by the news,” said Molly. “We’ve put our heart and soul into this pub, and so did the rest of St Just when we took over. It’s been a real community effort and we can’t thank everyone enough for believing in us and giving us the help.”
Despite having no experience in the pub trade, Brad and Molly took over the tired and failing King’s Arms in November last year. Together with St Austell Brewery they made significant investments in the business and have increased turnover by more than 400%.
“It was really run-down and in a bit of a mess when we got the keys – it needed a total overhaul,” said Brad and Molly. “We couldn’t believe it when people started knocking on the door, asking if they could help. Everyone wanted to chip in and bring the pub back to life.
“We installed a new commercial kitchen, sash windows, new signs and the whole pub was painted and cleaned from top to bottom. It is now a completely different place with a completely different atmosphere.
“We knew there was a gap in the market for quality, home-cooked food so we brought in local chef Lyndon Baldwin. Lyndon is so passionate about what he does. He bakes his own bread each morning, he also makes his own steak and Guinness puddings which are amazing and all the sauces and chutneys are also all made by Lyndon.
“We don’t buy any frozen or bought in products and we only use fresh local ingredients. The restaurant is very busy every night and we now advise eveyone that booking is essential.
“We made some optimistic predictions for the first year, and had already exceeded them by January. Obviously we’re thrilled – but more importantly, we absolutely love it here.”
The King’s Arms now goes through to the national finals, with the chance of being named Best in Britain at the awards ceremony iat The Hilton Hotel, Park Lane, Mayfair, London on September 9.
Adam Luck, Estate Director for St Austell Brewery, said: “Through sheer hard work and determination, Brad and Molly have transformed King’s Arms. It’s now back at the heart of the community – exactly where it should be.
“We’re incredibly proud to call it part of the St Austell Brewery estate and wish Brad and Molly the best of luck for the national awards.”
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