Brendan Padfield, who took over the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell in February from previous owners Madalene Bonvini-Hamel and Ross Pike of the British Larder, was woken up at roughly four in the morning to discover a fire had ripped through the pub, which had only been trading for twelve weeks.
He said: “It may sound like a cliché but I was in shock - I was traumatised. To walk up to your pub at dawn and see it still alight, it was very upsetting.”
Padfield expressed gratitude towards the local community for the support he and the Unruly Pig team had received after the fire.
Unruly Pig owner:
The community support has been pretty overwhelming... it made us think 'actually, we may have created something a bit special here'
“It was unexpected and hugely encouraging and really very touching,” he said. “The community support has been pretty overwhelming and it continues in all sorts of ways. It made us think ‘actually, we may have created something a bit special here’.”
Following five months of extensive repair and refurbishment, the Unruly Pig is set to reopen in late November and will begin taking bookings from Saturday, 5 December.
“It’s been pretty extensive work,” added Padfield. “The restaurant area wasn’t as badly damaged as the back of house but the kitchen prep area and the kitchen itself were more or less completely destroyed as well as the private dining room.”
Licensees facing a similar situation should ensure the policy limits on their insurance were generous and that they worked with insurers who were responsive and understanding, he advised.
He said: “I’d like [the Unruly Pig] to stay on track for what I want it to be – the premier gastropub in Suffolk. We’ve got some distance to travel but we’re on route,” adding that he thought comparisons with the pub’s previous incarnation, the British Larder, were unhelpful.
“We have a different model, we’ve positioned ourselves differently in the market, we have a different look, a different feel – it’s much more informal and I think comparisons between the two are unfair.
“The British Larder left us a great legacy but we’re building on that to do something different.”
The Unruly Pig was recently given a listing in the 2016 edition of the Good Food Guide.
Padfield said: “The fire’s been a massive setback of course but it has to be said that the listing after such a short period of time has made a real difference. There is a silver lining.”