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Two Norwich chefs plan to take over historic pub

PUBLISHED: 08:21 18 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:21 19 February 2020

Micawber's and the chefs; Andy Rudd and Roger Hickman, who plan to take it over. Pic: Archant/Newman Associates.

Micawber's and the chefs; Andy Rudd and Roger Hickman, who plan to take it over. Pic: Archant/Newman Associates.

Well-known local chefs Roger Hickman, of Hickman’s and Andy Rudd, co-owner of Stoke Mill, are planning to take over a historic pub for a new dining venture.

How Micawber's Tavern used to look. Pic: ArchantHow Micawber's Tavern used to look. Pic: Archant

Roger Hickman, who runs Hickman's fine dining restaurant in Upper St Giles Street and Andy Rudd, co-owner and chef patron at Stoke Mill contemporary dining restaurant, Stoke Holy Cross are hoping take over the lease at the old Micawber's Tavern in Pottergate. They've formed a new company together called 'The Chicken Inn' but it's not yet known whether this will be the actual name of the new venue.

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Micawber's Tavern, which is situated in a historic part of Norwich but does have newer buildings right next door. Pic: Ella WilkinsonMicawber's Tavern, which is situated in a historic part of Norwich but does have newer buildings right next door. Pic: Ella Wilkinson

It comes as the pub, which closed in the summer for repairs, has been renovated externally by its owners. Stewart Wright, the boss of building company Tailored Construction, and partner to one of the co-owners, recently told this newspaper how he faced delays because of guttering he'd replaced which the city council had asked to be taken down. The council and Mr Wright are now working together to resolve the issue.

Mr Hickman and Mr Rudd are hoping to make changes to the interior of Micawber's, a listed building which is situated just around the corner from Hickman's. Inside the pub is a large open plan bar area with a fireplace and many beams, although not all original, and with a flat above.

A spokesman for Mr Hickman and Mr Rudd said: "They are proposing to take over the lease at the former Micawber's pub in Pottergate. They have applied to make alterations to the building and can't really give any more details about their plans until they have consent to do that."

The pub dates to 1722 when it was known as the Duke of York and later became The Alma from 1857 to 1977; then Micawber's from 1977 to 1995. After that, it became an Irish theme bar called Seamus O'Rourke's from October 1995 to November 2000 when it became The Micawber's. It was renowned for its dark green glossy painted exterior and the sign showing a cartoon representation of Mr Micawber from Charles Dickens' 1850 novel David Copperfield. The character Mr Micawber was known for asserting his faith that 'something will turn up' and his name has become synonymous with someone who's an optimist.

The original pub sign for Micawber's depicting the character from a Charles Dickens novel. Pic: ArchantThe original pub sign for Micawber's depicting the character from a Charles Dickens novel. Pic: Archant

The new venture comes as Roger Hickman invested £500,000 last year in launching a new private dining area next to the restaurant. Having purchased the freehold to the ground floor of the listed building in 2012, Mr Hickman bought the remaining two floors in late 2017, giving space for the private dining room, as well as staff accommodation on the top floor. Andy Rudd secured the Norfolk Food & Drink Award within the first year of refurbishment at Stoke Mill, in 2014.

Micawber's Tavern, on the corner of Pottergate and Cow Hill. Picture: Ella WilkinsonMicawber's Tavern, on the corner of Pottergate and Cow Hill. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

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The famous Micawber's Tavern is going to be refurbished inside. Picture: Ella WilkinsonThe famous Micawber's Tavern is going to be refurbished inside. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Stewart Wright, MD of Tailored Construction, whose building firm has renovated the exterior. Pic: Ella WilkinsonStewart Wright, MD of Tailored Construction, whose building firm has renovated the exterior. Pic: Ella Wilkinson


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