Delight as Wigan pub prepares to open for fine food and drinks
Four years after many feared a once popular Wigan watering hole had shut its doors forever, work has begun on bringing it back to life.
The Crown at Worthington is planned to re-open as a pub-restaurant and hotel after a complete refurbishment by the new landlord Andrew McKenna and his partner Nic.
The couple are moving in with their four children and husky dog Silver and will revamp the sizeable Platt Lane building after it closed in January 2016 when the then owners left suddenly.
Andrew says he will run a food-led pub with “great meals, great drinks and a great atmosphere” - and plans to make it a venue for the whole community.
Because there is so much to do, the 40-year-old businessman is reluctant to set a grand opening date yet but it could be in a couple of months or so’s time.
Currently a resident of Hesketh Bank near Southport, he describes this latest move and venture as the realisation of a long-held dream.
Andrew, who also owns four travel agencies in the region and has invested heavily in this latest venture, said: “My parents have been in catering since I was a baby. I was in bars and restaurants - mainly abroad - until I was 25 or 26.
“More recently I’ve been in the travel industry, but hospitality has been something I have been looking to go back into. I just needed to find a pub which has potential.
“I went to see the Crown last October and, after some negotiations with Simon Jones from the owner Publican Ltd, signed a seven-year lease the other day.
“We have done our homework on the place, especially on what it used to do. It won awards for real ales and got good reviews on Trip Advisor.
“The location is great. Standish is a growing area with a lot of new houses being built so there is custom out there.
“We are re-gutting the place. We will have a wood burner where the fire was and are replacing the decor and furniture; in fact there is not much we are using that was in the property.
“We are aiming for a modern theme with a country style.
“All of the guest rooms are being refurbished too. There may still be jobs to do when we open - possibly in a couple of months time. As long as we have a bar and a half-decent restaurant, that might be the moment to open the doors.”
Andrew is bringing over a chef from Italy who will produce Italian food, including pizzas, but there will also be traditional British pub favourites on the menu, while “quality and affordability” will be watchwords.
Andrew said: “Nic and I are real foodies and can have strong opinions when we visit other places, so we are keen to get it right in our own place. We want standards to be high so people come back. Sunday roasts will definitely be on the menu.”
The whole family will be moving into the Crown to live and Silver, Andrew says, will be a regular feature of the bar (although not the restaurant for hygiene reasons!)
“The intention is to make the place dog-friendly and it will be family-oriented too. A new outdoor play area is very much on the cards, hopefully by the summer.”
The establishment’s revival is a huge victory for the Save The Crown campaign, which has campaigned to keep the building as a pub or restaurant after it was threatened with demolition so housing could be built there.
The campaign group, helped by Standish Voice Neighbourhood Forum, has been working behind the scenes since the pub – once a national Camra Pub of the Year runner-up – shut and have blocked plans to raze the premises, fought off the planning application and ensured all the organisations involved marketed the building as a hospitality venue.
Save The Crown spokesperson Heidi Lipscombe said: “We are overjoyed that Andrew and Nic have seen the value in giving The Crown a new lease of life and we thank them very much.
“It was a marvellous pub and can be again, especially as Standish is such a growing community.
“Our campaign group has had a rollercoaster ride since we decided we would not let another piece of history be demolished in Standish and campaigned for The Crown to serve pints again, as it has done for the last 160 years at least.
“Jim, Brian, Carl and I would like to thank all our supporters, including Standish Voice, for their help in rescuing our pub. We have all proved the doubters wrong.”
Paul Ogden, vice-chair of Standish Voice, said: “We would like to thank Andrew and Nic for their vision for The Crown and to the campaigners who would not let this landmark building be destroyed.
“We hope the re-fit goes well and we are certain that The Crown can soon be a great pub once again.”
Once fully operational, Andrew will have the function rooms up and running for events such as weddings and Christmas parties.
He added: “We want every aspect of the place to come back alive and be part of the community.
“We already have a Facebook page and, because we are a free house, we will be asking the community what kind of drinks they want to see behind the bars on top of the usual branded stuff.”
Details of a launch event will be issued later.