Kate Hayden and Paul Warriner are taking their second site with Star Pubs & Bars – The Hare at West Hendred in Oxfordshire – for a joint £500,000 investment, which will reopen the pub in March after a four-year closure.
The Hare is the only pub in West Hendred, and Hayden and Warriner, who also run The Snow Goose at Farnborough, want to revive it as a great traditional local and a hub of the community, where people are comfortable coming to drink and socialise or for a meal. The pub’s original name – The Extraordinary Hare – will be reinstated.
Says Hayden: “There are a number of top end food pubs in the area and when we talked to residents, they wanted a more traditional local, where people could come together for a drink and to meet up casually as well as for great food – so we’re aiming for that balance.”
Work to the outside will completely redecorate the 200-year old clapboard pub, renovate its distinctive colonnaded wrap around porch and add a beautiful all-weather garden.
Inside The Extraordinary Hare will be refurbished in a warm, welcoming style, keeping and restoring original features such as timber floors, open fires and snugs to retain the building’s character. The large bar will remain at the heart of the pub and the cellar will be upgraded with SmartDispense technology. The couple will seek Cask Marque accreditation and serve local cask ales through Star Pubs & Bars’ SIBA partnership.
A new extension will house a separate dining area. The menu will focus on what Warriner, a chef, describes as “pub food done right”. Dishes will be freshly prepared and use locally sourced ingredients.
Having taken The Snow Goose as their first leased pub in 2015 after extensive careers in managed houses, Hayden and Warriner feel ready to take a second site and plan to acquire more leased pubs once The Extraordinary Hare is relaunched.
Says Hayden: “We’ve established The Snow Goose and got a brilliant team in place, so it makes sense to expand our business by adding a second pub with a view to ultimately building up a group of three or four sites within a reasonable driving distance of each other.”
The couple are leasing The Extraordinary Hare on a five-year agreement. Explains Hayden: “Free houses are out of the question as it’s so expensive to buy a good one, or even an underdeveloped one with potential. Though we’re not risk averse, we also like the added security and safety net that leasing pubs offers.”
Adds Neil Convery, Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director for the South West: “It has taken time to find the right licensees for The Hare. Kate and Paul are perfect for it; they’re highly experienced, know what it takes to build a fantastic pub business and are passionate about great hospitality and meeting the needs of the community. Paul is also a brilliant chef which will ensure the pub has a good dry as well as wet trade.
“We’ll be investing across the South West in 2019 and this is one of the most exciting schemes.”