The Olive Branch in Clipsham, Rutland picked up this year’s accolade, despite losing its 10-year-old Michelin star last year, after providing “service as good as it gets” and offering “the ultimate pub experience”, as stated by the Guide’s readers.
The pub is part of Olive Inns, which owns two pubs and one restaurant-with-rooms, and has been run by Sean Hope and Ben Jones for 14 years.
Jones told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser winning the award was down to offering the “whole package”.
“When we set out in 1999 our aim was to try and be a good pub and everything that goes with that – a place that served great food, beer and wine with a great atmosphere. We treat all these qualities with equal importance and our whole team understand that. We don’t concentrate on being very food-led or beer-led or event-based – we provide the whole package,” he said.
He added it was “inevitable” the award will boost the pub’s trade but said the most important thing was keeping up staff morale.
“Quite a few of our staff were upset when we lost the Michelin star last October. But, as owners, Sean and I just carried on as normal and concentrated on reinvigorating us as a team. Winning this award is recognition of that effort put in by our whole team,” he continued.
The Olive Branch also featured at number 19 of the PMA’s Top 50 Gastropubs, as announced in January this year.
Commenting on the pub, co-editor of the Good Pub Guide 2014 Fiona Stapley said: “The Olive Branch is a very special place and a first class all-rounder. It’s civilised but warm and friendly, has a carefully chosen range of drinks, offers exceptional food and lovely bedrooms. As one of our readers aptly says it’s ‘the ultimate pub experience’. You can’t get better than that!”
The other winners in the Good Pub Guide 2014 were:
- Own-Brew Pub of the Year - Grainstore, Oakham, Leicestershire
- Beer Pub of the Year – Tom Cobley, Spreyton, Devon
- Brewery of the Year – Fullers, based in Chiswick, London
- Wine Pub of the Year – Woods, Dulverton, Somerset
- Whisky Pub of the Year – Bon Accord, Glasgow, Scotland
- Value Pub of the Year – Red Lion, Preston, Hertfordshire
- Dining Pub of the Year – Stagg, Titley, Herefordshire
- Pub Group of the Year – Salisbury Pubs
- Unspoilt Pub of the Year – White Horse, near Petersfield, Hampshire
- Town Pub of the Year – Park, Bedford, Bedfordshire
- Country Pub of the Year - Malet Arms, Newton Tony, Wiltshire
- New Pub of the Year – Bulls Head, Mottram St Andrew, Cheshire
- Inn of the Year – Blue Lion, East Witton, Yorkshire
- Landlord of the Year – Tim Gray at Yew Tree, Lower Wield, Hampshire