The Cheshire-based pubco has taken the reins at the historic Druid Inn at Gorsedd, near Holywell, north Wales, from north-west brewer Daniel Thwaites and plans a “careful renovation” before relaunching in early 2024.
Presently closed, the Druid, is said to date back to the 12th century and has been a popular village local and dining pub for several years and is also said to fit well with the company’s existing portfolio.
Brunning, who was born in Bangor and educated in Colwyn Bay, has strong links with the region and its pubs because his father owned the Royal Hotel in Capel Curig, which is now the Plas y Brenin outdoor centre, while his aunt, Ellaline Bunney, ran the West Arms hotel in Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog for 40 years.
North Wales venues opened
Launching Brunning & Price in the early 1980s with pubs in the south of England, Brunning moved the business north to create Chester’s Old Harkers Arms from an abandoned chandlery in 1989.
He then opened venues across north Wales including Wrexham’s Pant-yr-Ochain; the Corn Mill, Llangollen; the Glasfryn in Mold; and the Pen-y-Bryn at Colwyn Bay.
Brunning said: “The Druid fits in well with our philosophy on village pubs and I look forward to returning to north Wales.
“What we are aiming to create here with a careful renovation is a simple but good village local. A pleasing place to meet friends for a decent beer and something to eat if you feel inclined.
Inspiration and pub wisdom
The 67-year-old added his young pub team, which includes his own children, will be doing the leg work of renovation, drawing on his own “little bit of pub knowledge picked up over the years, which will, I’m sure, come in handy when it comes to seeking inspiration and pub wisdom”.
The Druid food menu will combine traditional classics with contemporary dishes while the bar will feature a wide selection of hand-pulled cask ales from brewers in Cheshire, north Wales and Shropshire alongside the group’s exclusive house JPA (3.6% ABV), which is said to be a light and hoppy pale ale developed by the team and now brewed by Big Hand of Wrexham. The pub will also offer its own tap-dispensed house wines.
The Pubs Ltd group now includes the Black Bear in Whitchurch; the Hare at Farndon; Chester’s Henry Potts in Watergate Street; and the Swan at Marbury-cum-Quoisley, near Nantwich.
Brunning, who founded Brunning & Price with Graham Price, sold the business to The Restaurant Group in 2007.