September 24 2014 Latest news:
Monday, January 7, 2013
Landlords hope a new Spanish tapas-themed restaurant will be the main attraction at a reopened Thorpe St Andrew pub, where calamari and patatas bravas are now on the menu.
Simon Bennett-Bennett and partner Mariana Poponete have taken over as tenants at the Enterprise Inns-owned pub, The Griffin in Yarmouth Road.
The couple spent 12 years in Spain, eight in Malaga in the south and four in Tarragona in Catalonia, and Ms Poponete worked for part of that time at a tapas bar where she learned her cooking skills. She’s originally from Romania so her tapas also has a south-eastern European feel to it, with one of her specialities, mici, a Romanian sausage.
The pub was closed for about two months before they took over late last year, and they spent a month on a makeover before re-opening.
Mr Bennett-Bennett said: “Our message is that we are here and we are open and we have something hopefully that other pubs don’t have - Spanish tapas.
“We have got what is called a tenancy at will, which means that we have been given time to see if we like it and, if we do and it does well, we get first refusal on it.
“I think this pub’s heyday was quite a while ago, but we are hoping to bring it back to good times. A lot of pubs are closing, with people staying at home and drinking rather than going out, but hopefully we can make a go of this one.”
The couple met in Romania when he went to buy a hotel there, and his solicitor was her cousin.
When the bubble burst in Spain, they decided to return to the UK, as Mr Bennett-Bennett’s mother lives in Cromer and his two sisters also live in the county. He also previously ran the Oxford Stores pub in Little Walsingham, north Norfolk. Ex-army and a former landing craft skipper, he said he had spent just a few years living in England, but was now planning to settle down in Norfolk. The pub also has a boxing licence which means that he might stage fights there in future.
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