December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The last decade has possibly been the toughest time ever for the pub industry, so it’s quite an achievement for any publican to still be in charge 10 years on.
Hundreds of pubs across the country have closed in the last decade because of the smoking ban, rises in VAT and beer duty, lifestyle changes, not to mention cut-price booze deals in supermarkets.
But Elizabeth Le Grice, known as Lil, is celebrating 10 years at one of Norwich’s most-loved pubs, the Golden Star in Colegate, and has no plans to leave.
She took over the tenancy at the Greene King pub after working as a barmaid at the nearby Woolpack, now The Woolie, in Muspole Street, and has not looked back since.
She said: “I think customers like consistency and seeing a familiar face at the pub. As I’ve been here for 10 years, I know everyone. People come in and ask ‘Are you still here?’
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the last 10 years. Obviously, we have had to weather the storm of the recession, which has been quite a challenge. While we have always been an ale-led pub, we do more food now than we used to. We have also started doing more live music at the weekends.”
She was just 23 when she took the pub on and is now 34. She added: “I think it’s quite an achievement to still be going. We are lucky in being in the city and we’ve got a lot of locals and regular customers.
“It’s an old-style pub and I don’t see us changing that much in the future. It will be more of the same.”
The pub has an added attraction in its resident cat, Winston. “Some people come to see Winston, who must be about 19. People from Birmingham come and stay at a hotel nearby, and ask if Winston is about.
“Apparently, someone from Norwich went to Birmingham University and told them if they ever come to Norwich, to go to the Golden Star and ask for Winston.”
Other customers appreciate the fine cooking of chef Liz Collis, who once worked at the White Lion in Oak Street, while others just appreciate it as a typical street corner pub of yesteryear, and one of a breed that is fast dying out.
Regulars call it a “country pub in the heart of the city” and would be heartbroken if it lost its “old-fashioned” charm. Lil’s 10th anniversary party next month will feature live music from the pub’s very own Elastic Band celebrating a back catalogue of music from gigs over the last decade at the pub.