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New owners of Norwich pub want to be ‘between gastro-pub and fine dining’

PUBLISHED: 16:23 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 08:49 05 December 2017

The Earlham Arms. New co-owner and executive director Mark Phillips with general manager Charlotte Wakelin. Picture: Luke Miles.

The Earlham Arms. New co-owner and executive director Mark Phillips with general manager Charlotte Wakelin. Picture: Luke Miles.

Luke Miles

The new owners of a city pub are determined to make it a business success after taking up the reins.

The Earlham Arms, on Earlham Road, Norwich, has been taken over by businessmen David Batch and Mark Phillips and the partners aim to broaden the menu to bring customers in.

Mr Phillips brings the catering industry knowledge, having worked for David Lloyd Leisure and run a bar in Majorca, while Mr Batch has a track record of growing businesses having built Premier Education Group into a global franchise from its Shropham base.

Food has been an early focus for the business with head chef Mike Smith returning to the pub to lead the kitchen team and plans to expand into a breakfast menu.

Mr Phillips said: “People will see a gradual change because it wasn’t broken before but we do want it a certain way.

“We are extending food service throughout the day and from the New Year we are planning to introduce a breakfast menu.

“We are good pub food, we probably fit in between gastro-pub and fine dining.”

The restaurant offers a tapas menu as well as a full pub food menu with vegetarian and vegan options.

The business partners took over the Earlham Arms in September and Mr Phillips said they had slowly been making changes.

He said: “The first few months have gone as we would expect and Christmas really takes care of itself so it will be January to March when we find out where we are at.”

Executive director Mr Phillips said there could be further locations on their radar if the model proved a success with Mr Batch having experience in franchising.

He said: “There is a possibility of expanding our presence and getting another one or two but we don’t want to expand until we have got the formula right.”

A renovation of the garden is one of the first changes on the list with planning permission being sought ahead of work beginning.

The pub, which has previously been known as the Fountain, Schoolhouse and the Pickwick, has a team of 15.

It was first licensed in 1974 and the name was changed to Hoofers in 1983.

It was previously run by celebrity chef Chris Coubrough as part of his Flying Kiwi group of inns.

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