'A hard act to follow' - Traditional pub plans to attract younger crowd
PUBLISHED: 12:20 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:20 21 January 2020
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A 400-year-old pub in Great Yarmouth has been sold with the new owner planning a light revamp of the premises to attract a younger crowd.
The St John's Head, a freehold on North Quay dating from the 17th century, was put up for sale last year by Barry Austin, 69, who has run the pub for almost 25 years.
The property is now being bought by Gillian Harwood, founder and managing director of the Busworks, a London-based company which converts old buildings into business hubs.
The company - currently renovating 11 Queen Street - will take over the pub on February 7 before closing it for a minor revamp, hoping to re-open before March.
When Mr Austin put the pub up for sale last year he said he hoped the new owner would keep it as a pub.
Mrs Harwood said: "It's a lovely little pub, a beautiful building."
She has been in the hospitality business and ran a restaurant in London for 30 years.
She said Mr Austin has looked after the building really well and that his knowledge of real ale will be a "hard act to follow".
"I'm delighted to be taking over, to keep it running as a friendly place for people to drop into.
"We're hoping to keep it as such a lovely place, but gradually changing the emphasis a little bit, to bring something more into Yarmouth.
"I do want to change the nature of it a bit, to appeal to a younger crowd," she said.
The new-look pub will also offer "simple healthy food", she said.
Mr Austin, who used to run the Clipper Schooner on Friars Lane, said he will celebrate his 70th birthday on February 2 and host a party in the pub the day before.
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"After 25 years I'm retiring and the pub seems to be going into safe hands," he said.
The pub is a Grade II listed property with some features dating to the early 16th century.
Described as a "real ale Mecca" it has been listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for several years.
The property also includes a private lounge, kitchen and three bedrooms.