After training with Enterprise Inns he took the lease on one of the pubco’s houses, the Red Lion, in January 2015.
Following a £100,000 refurbishment, the tired backstreet local reopened as a bright and quirky venue renamed the Better Half – and quickly become a favourite with locals.
To Stern’s credit, most of the pub’s staff stayed on, including Renata Dabrowska, who is now its general manager. Most of the regulars stayed, too, while a strong relaunch and marketing strategy, in particular the pub’s own smartphone app, made sure the pub has attracted and retained a much broader customer base.
Food has been key to success, too, and Stern has devised a menu that he describes as “pub food done really, really well”. Ingredients are locally sourced where possible and the kitchen minces its own beef for the best-selling burgers and hand-cuts its chips.
A busy programme of events include charity quizzes; Watch Nights, at which customers have the opportunity to get their heirlooms valued and bid for antique timepieces in an auction; and comedy nights – titled, of course, ‘The Better Laugh’.