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WHAT MAKES A GREAT PUB?

What makes a great pub or inn? Some would say a good selection of quality beers while others would say good albeit simple food. Many would regard the look and feel of the décor as most important. The more practical among us would say adequate car parking or clean toilets.

Almost everyone would agree that great hospitality – the warmth and bonheur radiated by the landlord and his or her serving team – is the key ingredient in the equation and is what makes a place special and worthy of repeat visits. But for me there is another factor which although intangible is nonetheless a very real thing. When I think about my experience in a particular pub, I ask myself the question; ‘Does this place have soul?’

The above thoughts came to mind during a recent round of visits to pub and inns throughout the UK in an effort to observe and learn from the best and to inspire our efforts at St Mary’s Inn. I visited some great places during this gruelling R&D effort but the one place that sticks out a mile is the Olive Branch near Rutland in the Midlands. And it sticks out because the owners have achieved so much with so little – the staff are welcoming and friendly, the food and drink offer is a quality one, the décor is full of character and the setting is idyllic.

But more than these things it has that elusive quality – soul! If we can create an Inn in rural Northumberland that comes even close to matching the standards of the Olive Branch and if we can create a place with soul, then the prospects for St Mary’s Inn will be very good indeed.

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TEMPORARY CLOSURE - UPDATED 1st July 2020

Dear Friends of St Mary’s Inn,

Despite the Government confirming that pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels will be allowed to open on 4th July, under specific distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 safety measures, the ongoing welfare of our staff and customers are paramount to us.

We have reviewed extensively how we could comply with these regulations and still operate and serve our customers safely, and with the warmth and hospitality our business is based upon. Our conclusions are that St Mary's Inn will remain closed until we are convinced in the future that we can control events safely and in a hospitable trading environment.

We appreciate all the messages of support we have received and we will certainly be back when conditions permit us to serve you all in a safe environment.

Best wishes to all,

St Mary’s Inn.