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Meet the new landlords at the 'best pub in Norfolk'

PUBLISHED: 16:31 16 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:56 17 November 2019

Pub landlords Justin McKee and Emma Byrne who have taken over The Leopard, but are still carrying on the legacy of former owner Bob. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Pub landlords Justin McKee and Emma Byrne who have taken over The Leopard, but are still carrying on the legacy of former owner Bob. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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The new landlords at CAMRA's Norfolk pub of the year are "embracing the legacy" of predecessor Bob Utting who made The Leopard a roaring success.

Dude is now a permanent pub dog as his owners take over The Leopard. Picture: Ella WilkinsonDude is now a permanent pub dog as his owners take over The Leopard. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The pub in Bull Close Road reopened on Friday after closing at the end of October as Mr Utting decided to leave after five years at the helm.

In that time, he transformed the pub into a award-winning, community gem and in April this year it was named the best in Norfolk by CAMRA.

Following his departure, he has now handed the reins to the "Leopard cubs" who are previous general manager Justin McKee, 45, and his fiancée Emma Byrne, 29, who is also known in NR3 as she previously worked at the Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Lawson Road.

The couple have already made a few changes to the pub, including new benches, stools and signs and they also have plans to transform the outside spaces and want to host more live music and quiz nights.

Bob Utting, previous landlord of The Leopard pub, which was named CAMRA's Norfolk pub of the year award. Picture: Ella WilkinsonBob Utting, previous landlord of The Leopard pub, which was named CAMRA's Norfolk pub of the year award. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

READ MORE: Norfolk venue named among Britain's top 20 pubs for winter

Mr McKee said: "When Bob confessed to us he didn't want to carry on with the lease we put our names forward - he said he would rather let it go to the Leopard cubs than anyone else.

"He was just worn out by the end and had put his heart and soul into it and realised he may well lose his love for the trade and wanted to leave on a high.

READ MORE: Norwich cocktail bar named one of the best in the UK

Justin McKee has taken over The Leopard pub in Bull Close Road. Picture: Ella WilkinsonJustin McKee has taken over The Leopard pub in Bull Close Road. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"We are embracing the legacy and selling his own Bob's Legacy brew made by Lacons and we are still letting people bring in takeaways and providing cutlery and condiments which was his idea."

The freehouse, which was previously owned by Batemans, dates back to 1824 and it is rumoured it was nicknamed The Lion at one stage as the picture of the leopard outside was "so terrible".

READ MORE: WATCH: A look inside one of the best pubs in Norfolk

Mr McKee added: "NR3 is the place to drink right now, with places such as The Plasterers, Kings Head and Fat Cat Brewery tap all complementing each other and people go on mini-bar crawls.

Pub landlords Justin McKee and Emma Byrne who have taken over The Leopard. PIcture: Ella WilkinsonPub landlords Justin McKee and Emma Byrne who have taken over The Leopard. PIcture: Ella Wilkinson

"The secret to a success is keeping things simple, selling good beer and catering for everyone."



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