New faces brought in to rejuvenate Hook Norton pubs

The Sun Inns new management team, left to right, Mark Higgs, Alex Waddell and Matthew Ayers NNL-171114-130459001
The Sun Inns new management team, left to right, Mark Higgs, Alex Waddell and Matthew Ayers NNL-171114-130459001

Hook Norton Brewery is hoping to get its own village’s pubs back to their best with some new faces and fresh ideas.

Both The Sun Inn and The Pear Tree pubs in Hook Norton reopened last week with new landlords.

This is a great site and it’s a big village that needs two or three good pubs.

The Sunn Inn’s new landlord Mark Higgs

Kitty Wright, 21, has made the step up to landlady at The Pear Tree after two years behind the bar.

And The Sun has been taken on by the British Institute of Innkeeping licensee of the year Mark Higgs and Matthew Ayers who have earned numerous awards together at The Castle in Edgehill.

Mark said: “This is a great site and it’s a big village that needs two or three good pubs.

“I think Matthew needed another step in his career as we’ve been together three years and it’s a new challenge for us.”

Hook Norton Brewery sees The Sun as its flagship pub, being in the centre of its own village, and the award-winning combination of Mark and Matthew is hoped to bring it success.

Matthew said the feedback so far has been positive and he plans to something special in the kitchen, putting his experience in Michelin star restaurants to good use.

“Everybody’s been really supportive so far and we’ve had a good response,” he said.

“We’re launching the food steadily but I think there’s a real need to push the food to do something new so we’re concentrating on local produce and game.”

The pair want to make the most of the large garden at the back of the pub, as well as bringing a community spirit into the place.

Mark said: “It’s very different to The Castle but that makes it interesting, it’s a lot more of a village pub as Edgehill has around 20 houses so Hooky is much bigger and means there will be more locals here.

“We can build a community around the pub with sports teams and by doing more events to bring more people into the village, which is good for the shop and butchers, as well as the brewery.”

Down the road at The Pear Tree, Kitty is doing her best to provide a pub worthy of being the brewery tap.

Tours are a big part of the brewery’s attraction and The Pear Tree would be an ideal place for visitors to go afterwards for tasting sessions.

Marketing manager Mark Graham said the brewery invests in its staff and making Kitty the new landlady proves this.

“Kitty has worked there for two years and she knows everyone so it made a lot of sense to promote her,” he said.

“We invest a lot in people as everyone gets training and Kitty is a great example of that investment.”

Another exciting new venture for the brewery is the opening last week of a cafe on site, which Mark said is going well.