Today the Evening News’ Pub of the Week feature spotlights the Wig and Pen in St Martin at Palace Plain, near the law courts in Norwich

Landlord Craig McLaren claims to have a knack for predicting the next big thing in the pub industry.

When he bought the pub with his wife Lynne 18 years ago, they immediately put in six handpumps for real ale, which has proved to be the boom area in the industry in recent times.

And they had a smoking area outside the pub a year before the ban came in.

His prediction for the future is that pubs will increasingly have to offer customers the complete package if they are to continue to be successful.

Judging by the crowd I encountered in the pub when I visited one Wednesday lunchtime, whatever they are currently doing is definitely working. It was packed out.

The couple, who are both Norfolk people, came to the pub after spending several years working in pubs in the West Country.

Mr McLaren said: 'We were looking to come back and take on a Norwich pub, and one, preferably, just outside the city centre.

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'From our previous experiences in Bristol we saw that pubs just outside the city centre had a more cosmopolitan atmosphere, which we felt suited our personalities.

'And it's proved that way. Our clientele here includes accountants from Mills and Reeve and people from the new Barclays Bank, and obviously a lot of lawyers from the courts.

'We pitch ourselves at professionals, as we are a very professional company, although that obviously does not exclude other customers coming to us.'

The couple admit they have not changed the pub much in the last two decades, but said they have tried to keep the character at the front of the pub.

Mr McLaren added: 'For the future we want to keep things as fresh as possible. The demand for pubs is still there but you have to supply the complete package now. As a destination for customers you have to satisfy all needs.

'We also do food to take away here and we try to move with the public, if not a step ahead of them.

'On the drinks side you have to have a 'boutique' style, a local beer or something that people cannot get from the supermarkets, what we call the giantkillers.

'You need to sell a product that people cannot get at home sitting in front of their TV sets. You have to make it a treat for them to come to your pub.'

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

Do you think that your pub has the history, character and regulars to make it as our Pub of the Week? Call Evening News reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email