Oxfordshire operator takes on two Star pubs

Brewmish Pub Company, launched by Chris Brewster (pictured centre), has taken on two Star Pubs & Bars sites, The Duke of Marlborough just outside Woodstock and The King’s Head in the town. 

The King’s Head, which has been closed for two years, is about to undergo a £350,000 joint refurbishment with Star Pubs & Bars transforming the site into a locals’ pub with wine bar and international small plates restaurant.

It will reopen as The Back Lane Tavern, its historic name which many locals already call it, in mid-August. 

The Duke of Marlborough, a family and dog-friendly coaching inn with 13 letting rooms reopened on 17 May following a lockdown refurbishment. 

Prior to launching this new pub business, Brewster spent 15 years in the licensed trade managing hospitality establishments and working within in the drinks industry.

The team Chris has put together at The Back Lane Tavern includes general manager, Hugo Kelly (pictured left) who has worked for a number of hospitality venues in Woodstock and the surrounding area and Brewster’s former business partner at The Unicorn in Deddington, Johnny Parke who is taking on the role of head chef (pictured right). 

The team at The Duke of Marlborough includes general manager Richard Gibbs and head chef Tomek Wisniewski.

Taco takeaway truck

“Taking on two pubs during lockdown was frustrating as it meant the business hasn’t been able to grow as quickly as planned," says Brewster. "However, it opened up new opportunities. We were able to trial a taco takeaway truck business from the Duke of Marlborough – a mini Duke on wheels.

"It’s a model we will look to expand as this style of operation that can thrive during a pandemic and also be used for events and to serve outlying villages. Once The Duke of Marlborough and The Back Lane Tavern are firmly established, we plan to take on a further two or three pubs in the Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire or Berkshire area.

“Although they’re close to one another, the two pubs cater to a different market. Both had been underperforming, but were great sizes, historic pubs and in good locations, and so offered real opportunities. The Back Lane Tavern is all about bringing back a top-quality locals’ pub in a town where everyone focusses on tourists.  The Duke is a family pub with accommodation offering street food.

“In the short-term we like many other hospitality businesses are facing the challenge of staff shortages, but I feel very positive about the future."

Picture taken by Ryan Cowan

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