Town’s longest serving licensee leaves industry after 19 years

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Service recognised: (l-r) Jonathan Quinn and wife Linda receive an honourable trophy from Punch Pubs & Co operations manager David Symes
Service recognised: (l-r) Jonathan Quinn and wife Linda receive an honourable trophy from Punch Pubs & Co operations manager David Symes

Related tags Punch pubs Pubco + head office Tenanted + leased

The operator of a seaside town pub is leaving the industry after almost two decades at the helm.

Jonathan Quinn and his wife Linda took on the George & Dragon in Ilfracombe, Devon in 2004.

A chef by trade, Jon cooked in Europe before settling in Stockport. After becoming a head chef in a renowned restaurant, Jonathan then swapped the kitchen for the classroom and began teaching food technology lessons.

Following this, he made the decision to move down to the south west after spending many summers in Ilfracombe and took over the George & Dragon from his sister.

Charity fundraising

Jonathan said: “I’d always loved coming down to Ilfracombe, it was our family’s special place and every time I was here, I’d help out behind the bar.

“We were visiting one summer and Christmas said she was moving on, that’s when I realised it was time to get back into it.

“I wanted to make it to 20 years but while summer is great with holidaymakers, the winters are getting harder.

“Although I love what I do, I always said when I go, I want to be going on a high. I’m at the top now and some of the best memories in my life were at this pub.”

He outlined how this started one Friday when the pub was busy with diners but once they had left, guests weren’t staying out afterwards. Joe decided to start a quiz with customers visiting from nearby and from overseas.

“The popularity was already huge but throughout lockdown, we went virtual with it. We were getting three, four, sometimes 500 people tuning in,” Jon said.

“Every week we would raise money for a different cause and one time, we had a full diary for 19 months!”

Jonathan has strived to ensure the George & Dragon stands out from the crowd and one rule it has is a mobile phone ban, meaning if a guest wants to take a call, they have to step outside.

Pub focus

Over the years, he has focused on keeping staff well trained, attentive and treat guests how they would like to be treated.

The licensee said: “You never know who might be coming through the door. The industry has changed massively over the years but standards should never fail.

“It’s simple. Perseverance. What works for one pub may not work for yours but if you think it’s right then do it.”

The licensee reflected on his time at the pub and the money raised for good causes over the almost two decades.

Jonathan added: “I’m very proud of what we have achieved here and I’ll forget the memories we have made. We’re so grateful to all the kind people who have donated over the years and those that have nominated myself and the pub for awards.

“Being out of the pub will certainly take some getting used to but I am looking forward to a total change.”

Robert Bennellick and Rosie Beecham have now taken on the George & Dragon following Jon’s departure.

Related topics Punch Pubs & Co

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