Today’s Pub of the Week is the Bird in Hand in Wreningham, about six miles from Norwich
PUBLISHED: 09:56 07 December 2012
Not many pubs can boast a display of wing plates on the wall that used to be attached to Formula One champion Ayrton Senna’s Lotus car – but the Bird in Hand at Wreningham is a treasure trove for racing fans.
Close to Lotus’s HQ in Hethel, the pub is well supported by the legendary car makers and visitors can look at pictures of famous motors on the wall, while supping a pint.
Landlords David and Gill Brake bought the pub in 2008 and redecorated and refurbished everything inside to reflect its proximity to the legendary Lotus base.
They also decided to make the business more of a pub as they felt the previous owners had gone too far down the restaurant route, although they still have two head chefs.
The business today is very much a family affair, with daughter Lizzie the manageress, youngest daughter Millie a trainee, and son Alex the pub’s quizmaster.
Mr Brake said: “We take the food and drink seriously, but everything else has to be fun.
“When we came here they just had two cask ales on sale while we have five or six.
“While only about 450 people live in Wreningham, we also draw heavily for customers on Mulbarton, Wymondham and Long Stratton, and from south Norwich, which is just six miles down the road. Christmas bookings are 20pc up on last year.”
They already have planning permission for an eight-bedroom B&B unit at the pub, plus a cafe and farm shop. “We will be looking earnestly at that in the new year,” Mr Brake added.
He has spent nearly all his career in the pub trade, and ran a licensed trade insurance brokerage, which he sold in 2005.
He also worked for two breweries, Adnams and Norwich Brewery, after training in retail and working for Watney’s. He was also in charge at the Red Lion in Eaton for two years.
His daughter Lizzie added: “I love it, as there’s a new challenge every day. The great staff are like a second family, and you get a real buzz when it’s busy. I love Christmas because everyone is jolly.”
Mr Brake said they opened the bar for drinks-only last Christmas Day as an experiment. “We had about 150 people in and it felt like a real pub. Everyone was wearing the new sweater or walking gear they got as presents.”
The Evening News has been urging people to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign.
To see more stories from the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal