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Today’s Norwich Pub of the Week is the Royal Oak in Old Catton, where real ales have just made a comeback

PUBLISHED: 08:49 04 November 2011 | UPDATED: 16:46 04 November 2011

Owner of the Royal Oak, pub of the week, Darren Reilly. Picture: Denise Bradley

Owner of the Royal Oak, pub of the week, Darren Reilly. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant copyright 2011

It takes just three minutes for Darren Reilly to walk from one of his pubs to the other – but it’s still going to be a tough ask for the Irishman to run them both.

Mr Reilly has been in charge at the Woodman in North Walsham Road for eight years and has now also taken over the Royal Oak farther down the road.

Both pubs are owned by Enterprise Inns and the Royal Oak is already a magnet for real ale lovers in the area after reopening following a complete refurbishment.

Mr Reilly said: “I saw the potential at the Royal Oak. Ten to 15 years ago it was really popular but unfortunately it’s not been as successful recently.

“The Woodman is a very successful establishment and is more gastro, food-oriented. I saw the potential at the Royal Oak for live music, real ales, and to make it a family-friendly community pub.

“We have distributed 2,500 copies of a newsletter to people in the area telling people what we have done at the pub.

“We have had all new flooring, new carpeting and it’s been painted inside with new upholstery. Outside, we are getting complete walling across the car park gates.

“And real ales are back after an absence of seven years, so we are going to push that. It’s all about getting people in who love a good pint.”

Meetings and functions will be held in the pub in the future, he said, and there’s a large children’s area and a stage for live music, but there will also still be the traditional darts teams, etc. based at the boozer.

Mr Reilly said the outside seating area would also be spruced up in time for next summer.

The pub’s new assistant manager Catherine Stafford, who has worked her way up from barwork at the Woodman, is also looking forward to the new challenge.

She said: “The inside of the Royal Oak looks stunning, and people have been coming in, looking around, and positively commenting on the changes. People say that they also feel more comfortable in the pub now.”

Mr Reilly said the Woodman was also getting a makeover with new signage and windows, but he had no intention of taking on a third pub. “Two’s already enough, as it’s been hard work,” he said.

The Evening News has been urging customers to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal.


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