Norwich Pub of the Week: The Woodman in North Walsham Road

While the Woodman's landlord, Darren Reilly, is predicting that more pubs in our region will sadly close before the end of the recession, he is confident that the better ones will survive and prosper.

Mr Reilly has been in charge at the Woodman for eight years and last year also took over the Royal Oak farther down the road.

He's keen for the two pubs to be seen as a pair with one complementing the other. The Woodman has a great reputation for food and after last year's refurbishment the restaurant is looking especially good, while the Royal Oak is already a magnet for real-ale lovers in the area after a complete refurbishment.

Both pubs are owned by Enterprise Inns, and Mr Reilly said he had an excellent relationship with the pub company, unlike some of its tenants.

He said: 'A lot of people knock them down, but they have been very supportive of me. I would especially like to thank regional manager Adam Cogan and his boss, Brian Sorrel.

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'The Woodman was doing well and they agreed to invest in us. In fact, the pub has just enjoyed the best two February weeks I've ever had. I put it down to our reputation for food and as being a great place for functions. We like to think we are a 'gastro-style pub with a twist'.'

Catherine Stafford is assistant manager at the Royal Oak, and also does shifts at the Woodman.

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She said: 'Darren believes that pubs can be a focus for the community and wants to keep them going.

'So many pubs are dropping off we want to keep these pubs alive, and it makes you want to work even harder.'

The Woodman's bar supervisor Amy Cutting added that the regulars were 'really friendly' and said it was a pub for everyone.

To keep the punters happy the pub is hosting a 'Tex-Mex' event today, with a coach on hand to take regulars to the Royal Oak free of charge to attend a reggae night from 9pm. Mother's Day at the Woodman is always a big event, as well, and Wednesday's quiz nights are frequently booked up.

Mr Reilly added: 'People still like coming to pubs to catch up with what's going on, even if the price of a pint, in some cases, is now about �3.70.

'The breweries have put up their prices and the budget later this month is expected to add extra beer tax, so we have already put up our prices to take into account both increases, with an estimated amount added on for the budget rise.'

The Evening News has been urging customers to return to pubs in our Love your Local campaign.

To see more stories from the campaign visit

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