Previous Great British Pub Awards winners back in business

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Perfect timing: Licensees Joel Czopor and Susie Clarke with their son outside new pub the Tichborne Arms
Perfect timing: Licensees Joel Czopor and Susie Clarke with their son outside new pub the Tichborne Arms

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Great British Pub Awards Pub of the Year 2014 winners Joel Czopor and Susie Clarke are excited to be back in the trade after a five-year hiatus.

Czopor and Clarke, ex-licensees of the Grafton in Kentish Town, London, decided to leave their busy city lifestyle behind in 2016.

After finding the perfect countryside pub in Alresford, Hampshire, the publicans are back and excited to open of their new pub, the Tichborne Arms.

Clarke said: “We wanted to start a family and we knew we didn't want to do that in London, so the idea was to find a rural location to put down roots and settle down in the country.

Perfect timing

“We had our son and we needed a bit of time getting to grips with becoming parents and the shock that is being a new parent, so it gave us a little bit of breathing space to find a new rhythm to life.

“When the Tichborne came along, it was absolutely perfect.”

The publicans have grand plans for the Tichborne and have already put their stamp on the village pub through refurbishments.

“We want to retain the very well-loved look and feel it has, but sensitively bring it into the 21st century, we've put in a planning application as we want to increase the internal space.

“The toilets are housed in an outbuilding, and there's a courtyard in between the outbuilding and the pub, so we'd like to create an internal space to link those two parts of the pub to bring the access to the toilet indoors and also double the trading space indoors.”

Czopor and Clarke hope to create the feeling of a traditional community pub, a hub for locals and tourists to relax and get to know the village while putting the worlds to rights.

“Village pubs are one of the last cornerstones of that real traditional pub ethos; people pop in, it's like their front room and they get to see a familiar face behind the bar, it feels like you’re at home.

“That tradition really is very much alive and well in village pubs and that's something we're really excited about.”

However, Czopor and Clarke are making sure they learn from mistakes previously made at their other pubs.

Learning from past mistakes

“What we learned from our previous pubs was putting too much emphasis on key personnel such as a chef or a manager and stepping back too far was a mistake for us.

“We felt we weren't able to deliver our extremely high standards by giving over too much control to our personnel, we want to work very collaboratively with our team but we will be very hands on.”

Ingraining themselves in the community and welcoming a variety of customers is something very important for the licensees having already joined local clubs, spoken with the local hunt and created a buzz ahead of opening, hopefully, next Springtime.

“Everybody's been incredibly supportive, we've had so many messages and been inundated with people really pleased we're here and glad to see that the pub will remain open.

“People are pleased to see we are people with experience, we know what we're doing and we can secure the pub for the future of the community.”

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