James Iannone will be running the Grinning Rat, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pub until Thursday 25 July when he has been forced to leave after losing a court case against Punch Taverns last Thursday.
Iannone was running the pub on a tenancy at will since the start of the year and said he was led to believe it would become a full tenancy agreement by a former Punch area manager who is now believed to be absent through long-term sickness.
But six weeks ago, Iannone was given six days’ notice to leave after Punch reviewed a business plan from another interested tenant. He staged a sit-in protest with around 20 locals and friends.
Iannone said no pub would thrive at the venue due to nearby competition but insisted that he was making a profit.
“I think it’s ridiculous what Punch did,” he said. “The pub next door is a real ale pub and the best pub in Ipswich. Our venue will never thrive, but we were offering something different. We were catering for the LGBT community.
“The pub has opened and closed more times than anything in the last few years, because of the competition. But with us it has proved to be successful. We were making profits.”
Last month, Iannone told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser he had spent thousands of pounds refurbishing the outlet after receiving positive feedback from a previous area manager, and was hoping for compensation for the money he spent.
A Punch Taverns’ spokesperson said: "We have been granted possession and Mr Iannone must leave the premises in 14 days. We are pleased with the outcome and look to reopen the Grinning Rat with Mr Luke Hughes as soon as possible so it can continue to serve the local community."
Iannone is hoping to run another pub in Ipswich which will serve the LGBT community, but confirmed he would not be working with Punch again.