Nick Parkinson ‘not leaving the trade’ after putting pub on market

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Trade history: Nick Parkinson took on the Royal Oak Paley Street in 2001
Trade history: Nick Parkinson took on the Royal Oak Paley Street in 2001

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Nick Parkinson, licensee of the Royal Oak Paley Street in Berkshire has told The Morning Advertiser he won’t be leaving hospitality, following his decision to put the pub up for sale.

Nick, who took on the pub with his famous father – journalist and talk show host Michael – in 2001, has put the pub on the market after being offered an opportunity that meant he couldn’t continue to give the pub his time and commitment.

While he was tight lipped on what this opportunity was, he said: “It is with a heavy heart that I made the decision and I can’t discuss what’s going on but an opportunity has come up for me and my wife to do something that means I can’t be part of the pub any more because I won’t be able to give the time and commitment to it.

“It took a long time to come to terms with it but, in the end, it is best to put it on the market and try to sell it.

“I’m 55 years of age, I took it on when I was a lot younger and it’s a tough industry. You start looking to manage your life a bit better and have a bit better quality time for yourself.

“It’s not an urgent sale, we put it on the market to see if someone takes it. I’d love a younger chef couple to take it on. The pub discovered people like Dom Chapman​ (from the Beehive, White Waltham, Berkshire) and Craig (Johnson) from MasterChef​.”

Adapting over time

Nick laid out why he and his dad decided to take on a pub all those years ago and how much things have changed while they have been at the helm.

He said: “We took on the lease in July 2001. I had come back from Australia, where I lived for 13 years.

“I wanted to get a business near to my family and at the time, my dad was interested in getting involved so we got the pub together.

“It is four miles from my family home and that was a major reason why we got it. At first, it was a bit of fun but then it became more and more ambitious.

“We then developed from doing originally beefburgers and fish and chips to gaining a Michelin star. We have seen a huge journey with it.”

He outlined how the hardest time over the past 18 years at the pub was losing the Michelin star last year, which it originally won in 2010.

Life experiences

Nick said: “It was hard for the staff. I was a little bit more pragmatic. I never went in it to win awards, I went in it to make money and have a good business and enjoy myself but I do see how much it affects your staff around you.

“They are the ones you really keep the place going. That was quite hard to try and motivate them back in and keep them going on, which they have done very well.”

However, when it comes to the proudest moment of running the pub, Parkinson mentioned a royal celebrity coming to visit.

He added: “The proudest moment was when the Queen booked in for lunch. You don't serve anyone more famous than the Queen.

“She’s very disarming. Her first comment to me was ‘my grandchildren love this pub’. Several of her grandchildren have been in the pub and it's a really sweet thing to say.

“She realises you're as nervous as can be and she's as cool as a cucumber. That was probably the best moment, proudest moment I've ever had.”

The leasehold of the Royal Oak is on the market with Davey Co for £195,000. It lists the pub as having net sales of about £700,000 a year.

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