Star lease takes family portfolio to seven

Steve Haslam has taken on a Star Pubs lease for The Bread & Cheese in Essex.

Essex-based multiple operator Steve Haslam (pictured) has taken on a Star Pubs lease for The Bread & Cheese, Benfleet. 

The pub, which is opening following a £500,000 joint investment, brings the number of pubs in the Haslam family’s portfolio to seven. Its second Star Pubs lease is the award-winning Victory in Mersea.

Haslam and his family, who previously operated TLC Inns, initially took on The Bread & Cheese in 2020 on a temporary agreement to prevent the pub from closing.   

"The Bread & Cheese is one of the most well-known pubs in Essex," says Haslam. "I hadn’t intended to take it on, but when a friend told me it was about to be boarded up I felt I had to step in. I don’t make emotional business decisions, but this was the exception, as I first visited The Bread & Cheese aged 14 when my father was the cleaner.   

"Having run it on a temporary basis for the last three years I realised that it was actually a sleeping giant and had real potential - 25,000 cars pass it every day, but it looked tired. We have worked hard to give it a fresh look and feel to match the level of the service we provide."

Fresh Bread

The recent investment from Haslam and Star has created an outdoor cinema with a 5m screen on raised decking with seating for 120, and a mix of banquette and freestanding rattan furniture outside. There are also two covered pergolas with banquette seating and their own TVs and one with its own shuffle board table..  

Inside, The Bread & Cheese has been completely stripped out to open up the interior with more windows making it brighter.  A brand new £100,000 kitchen has also been created to enable The Bread & Cheese to offer a wider menu and cater for more customers.  

"With the pandemic over, energy prices coming down and inflation easing off we’re ready to start thinking about growth again," adds Haslam. "Come the end of the summer, I believe we’ll see improvements in trade and then in 2025 we’ll see a return to more normal trading for the first time in years. Our intention is to add a further three to four pubs with potential over the next four years in the Essex/East Anglia corridor, as that is manageable for a family run business."

"Steve has done a fantastic job with The Bread & Cheese," says Steve Charlton, business development manager for Star Pubs. "First turning the business around including introducing a popular carvery in September and then building on that success with this stunning refurbishment. It takes The Bread & Cheese to the next level. It can only go from strength to strength."

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