Retired teachers pick up keys to historic pub as revival plans move forward

Got the keys but no beer pulls

New pub owners Jo and Frank Butt behind the bar at the Angel Inn, Loddon, after picking up the keys. - Credit: Frank Butt

A town's oldest pub is braced for a new lease of life, with a husband-and-wife duo now set to lead its revival.

Earlier this month, retired Langley School teachers Frank and Jo Butt revealed plans to transform the Angel Inn, in Loddon, into a microbrewery and artisan hub.

Now, seven months after their first viewing, the duo have picked up the keys to the historic venue.

Mr Butt said: “It’s been a bit of a David and Goliath struggle trying to buy pub as a free house. The odds are stacked against you with commercial brokers saying the banks will either go silent or laugh at you if you say you are buying pub in the current climate.

"It’s not just the banks but suppliers of food, beverages or even electricity have been stung by pub closures through the Covid period and are either not willing to supply or only on very stringent terms.

“We have the keys but where are the beer pumps? Larger breweries are keen to reinstate the cellar equipment for you, provided you commit to them being majority brewer, which is tempting but we would rather stay independent.”

The couple, who have a small property portfolio, had to refinance to raise the funds.

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Mr Butt said: “We could have simply walked away and waited for our investments to recover over the next year or two, but we are committed to the Angel Inn."

Mrs Butt added: “The last half year has not been wasted.

"The provenance of our ingredients is at the heart of what we intend to do and having had the time to meet each of our suppliers in person has been very important to us.”

From farm and field to fork or firkin, butchers to breweries, the couple have checked the supply chain of the produce they will use once open.

Julie at St Jude expaling lactic style cheese production

Julie at St Jude explaining lactic style cheese production. - Credit: Frank Butt

Mrs Butt said: “Wherever possible we are going for local, family run businesses with the highest standards of ethics and welfare. If we cannot source locally, then it is fairly traded.

“Seeing how Vick’s lop pigs at Thatched House Farm can forage under the shade of the woodland canopy is heart-warming."

The couple have visited a number of local suppliers and businesses in search of inspiration for their new venture.

Last week the couple saw the hand crafting of Baron Bigod and St Jude cheeses at Fen Farm dairy near Bungay, before visiting Tindall Brewery.

Mrs Butt said: “We spent some time chatting to the Michael who had just ‘mashed up’ with Ed.

"The aroma of malt and hops was fantastic, and we walked out with a box of samples to try.

"It’s a hard life but someone’s got to do it.

Jo and Michael inspecting the mash

Jo and Michael inspecting the mash. - Credit: Frank Butt

The couple hope to open their doors as soon as possible, first by opening the café, then the pub once the cellar work has been completed.