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Neatishead local relaunched after £800k investment

14:15 03 June 2014

head chef Jamie Moore and landlord Ricky Malt

head chef Jamie Moore and landlord Ricky Malt

Archant

A community local has been re-launched as a destination pub after a campaign to save it spearheaded by a local businessman.

The outlook for the White Horse Inn, in Neatishead, looked bleak last summer with the tenants set to leave in September and slim prospects of anyone stepping in to take over the struggling Punch Taverns property.

However, a bright new era for the Broadland pub began at the end of last month when the White Horse re-opened after a complete refurbishment taking nearly five months.

Landlord Ricky Malt, 29, explained how he had sold his vision for the “sort of pub that was needed” to local businessman Ian McFadyen, who had previously played an active role in the successful campaign to re-open the village shop as a community-owned store.

He said: “Ian was desperate to save his local and was prepared to bankroll my plans. With the purchase price and the cost of doing it up his investment has been in the region of £800,000.”

Mr Malt, who is married to local girl Felicity, 28, left his job as manager of a large Midlands pub company to take over the White Horse. He said: “We kept it open from August to January as best we could until we closed for the refurbishment.

“The kitchen was condemned at the time, the electrics were a nightmare and part of the premises was not licensed.”

In the first week after re-opening they had more than doubled their takings of their previous best week and were already receiving rave reviews on TripAdvisor.

Mr Malt said: “We have taken on three chefs, seven waitresses, all living within walking distance of here, four bar maids and a cleaner.”

Their head chef Jamie Moore, 25, previously of the White Horse, in Upton, had put together a varied menu focusing on local produce - “even our coffee is roasted in Norfolk”.

However, Mr Malt stressed: “We are a proper real ale pub that serves really good food rather than a restaurant masquerading as a pub.”

As a free house their focus was on micro breweries rather than the big brands.

He said: “Our success is already having a knock-on effect to local businesses. One bed and breakfast has told me it is booked up for an August wedding with the wedding party choosing to come here because there is a pub where they can have a meal.”

Have you transformed a business? Call Stephen Pullinger on 01603 772446 or email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk

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