Traditional drinkers’ pub pulling in the locals - The Freemasons’ Arms in Hall Road, Norwich
09:38 30 May 2014
copyright: Archant 2014
Regulars at this pub in central Norwich know why it’s so popular - “It’s a proper English pub,” one said. You can certainly feel the atmosphere as you walk through the doors. Friendly people enjoying a pint and good conversation in comfortable surroundings with their mates from the local area. Landlord Simon White, who has just been in charge seven-and-a-half weeks, has grasped what the locals want and is doing his best to accommodate them.
It helps that he has plenty of experience working in city pubs and enjoys the camaraderie and good conversation. He spent six years working at the Rose Tavern in Rupert Street, which is run by his mother, Janet White. He has also served behind the bar at the Fat Cat in West End Street and The Garden House in Pembroke Road, after starting as a barman at Delaneys in St Andrew’s Street while he was studying at Leeds. He studied biology as he thought research science was the way to go, but the pull of the pub drew him back to Norwich and life in the pub trade.
“I had fallen in love with bar work,” he said. “Being a manager is more hours’ intensive, but I really enjoy it. It means I get to socialise with people in the pub all day.”
There are about five pubs within a five-minute walk of his, and the popular King’s Arms is directly opposite in Hall Road. But he believes there’s enough trade for all of them to make a good living.
“There are a few people who drink here and at the King’s Arms, but we mainly have our own set of customers,” he said. Customers can also enjoy the Sky and BT sport at the pub, which is licensed on Fridays and Saturdays until 1am. They serve four real ales and Mr White said that, while it was too late to take part in this year’s City of Ale event, which ends on Sunday, June 1, he might sign up next year. “We are also looking to get live music going here and we have a barbecue in the outside area round the back. We are also trying to attract some people from the large migrant population in the area. We don’t see many of them now, but the doors are always open. I did think about putting up a sign, when I started, to say the pub was under new management, but then I thought I would rather get people in through word of mouth.”