The Alvanley Arms itself dates back over 400 years, but in the current economic climate - with increases in beer duty forcing prices to rise to an all-time high and an average of 26 pubs closing per week - the task of running your own pub can be both a daunting prospect for any would-be licensees. However, The Alvanley Arms is bucking the trend thanks to Harry and Julie’s determination and business knowhow.
The duo, dedicated publicans, have run several successful establishments over the past 20 years, from picturesque Kendal to the sunny shores of Spain.
“We took over the Alvanley in February last year” said Harry. “Unfortunately, the pub had lost the high level reputation and popularity that had been previously associated with such a beautiful country pub. On our first day we made a list of the things that we wanted to change; we wanted to go back to basics.”
Following Harry and Julie’s mantra of “proper restaurant food at pub prices”, the reimaging of The Alvanley Arms has seen the debut of a new menu, championed by a new Head Chef: Luke Anderson (winner of the 13th series of Big Brother).
After capturing the public’s attention, Luke turned his sights to winning over the critics with his passion and culinary wit. Classically trained with a flair for heart-warming, traditional dishes, Luke has turned the menu upside down since his arrival.
“We’ve been really focused on creating a menu which complements the homely feel of the pub” said Luke. “I am particularly proud of our Game Pie, made daily using fresh, handmade pastry. We don’t skimp on portion size or quality and the menu is finally what you would expect from such an idyllic country pub: full bodied, rustic, homely food.”
“Previously, The Alvanley Arms only had some specials on a blackboard” explains Harry. “Now we have a fantastic core menu with midweek specials. It’s been a huge change and one that hasn’t gone unnoticed by our customers. Many of them come through the door and tell us ‘the old Alvanley is back!’ - which is great to hear.”
Robinsons’ real ale has also had a part to play in the pub’s success. With more and more people migrating from traditional lager brands to hand-pulled cask ale, the act of rotation and giving the customer ‘choice’ is more important than ever.
"We’re huge supporters of the real British ale revival” said Julie. “It has noticeably reinvented its image over the past few years and is starting to attract a younger crowd. It’s a win-win situation: our menu is winning over food lovers and drinkers are coming in because the pub really is the only place to get a decent pint of cask ale – the two go hand-in-hand.”
Furthering the relationship between cask and food, Harry - who trained as a baker from an early age - has started to bake bread using the yeast from Robinsons’ legendary Unicorn ale.
“It’s definitely unique to us,” says Harry, “we are already seeing a great response from people who are coming in daily to buy our freshly made bread. It’s been a great way to build the reputation of the pub and proof that the Alvanley Arms is once again rising to the top!”
The Alvanley Arms is open daily for drinks, food and accommodation.