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Shock at cost of keeping Norfolk pub in shape

PUBLISHED: 09:53 11 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:36 02 July 2010

The Bell Inn, Salhouse

The Bell Inn, Salhouse

David Bale

A landlord at a popular Norfolk pub celebrating its first anniversary under his management said today he never realised how much extra cost was needed to make it a success.

A landlord at a popular Norfolk pub celebrating its first anniversary under his management said today he never realised how much extra cost was needed to make it a success.

The Salhouse Bell opened in April last year after landlord Steve Hardiman spent an estimated £35,000 putting in new carpets, counter tops, toilets, kitchen, sofas and lights.

Twelve months later, while the pub has attracted a new clientele through its Wednesday quiz night, Mr Hardiman said he had now spent about £55,000.

He said: “It's still worrying that with all The Evening News' hard work in promoting the pub trade through its Love Your local campaign, there still seems to be a large sector of people who just do not seem to venture out of their houses, even for just a cup of coffee and a chat.

“We certainly underestimated how much we would need to spend on the pub and the first year's profits have all gone straight back into the pub to get things right.

“I think the figure we have spent is probably near to £55,000 which is almost double our initial prediction.”

He said the first year had been a rollercoaster ride, starting with a huge opening day that unfortunately left many customers people waiting for ages to get served.

He added: “Summertime proved a huge success with plenty of people coming from off the boats. Christmas and New Year was a great time and the locals really appreciated having their pub back at this time.

“But January and February were absolutely flat which we expected but when the snow fell it was shocking with how it affected the business.

“However, while there are still things to do, it is now at a point where we can sit back and feel happy with where we are.”

Sue Coleman, chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Licensed Victuallers' Association (LVA), said people were sometimes shocked at the amount of work needed to make a pub a success.

She said: “You have to be able to deal with customers, with the cellar, cleaning the place, human resources, accounting, pay roll, and then bring the whole package together. It's maybe not as easy as people think when they take over a pub.”

Mr Hardiman, who has been a chef for more than 20 years, took on the Bell in partnership with Martin Talbot, the landlord at the Jolly Farmers, and has been running it with wife Trudi.

The Evening News' Love Your Local Campaign aims to get punters back into pubs or risk them losing for good.

For more stories about the campaign visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk/loveyourlocal.

Have you got a pubs story for the Evening News campaign? Call David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

For more information about the pub, visit www.salhousebell.co.uk.

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