Our first 3 months

We have now been at The Star Inn for almost 3 months. It has been a busy few months as we started some of the refurbishments, implemented a few quick changes and inherited a number of events in our calendar, including the Rothbury Pipe Band Tour, Harbottle Show and Alwinton Show. We enjoyed these immensely and learnt very quickly how to run a busy bar although we aren’t experts at it yet!

We made a few early changes when we took over the pub – implementing a new till system with card payment facilities to help with our accounts, stock control and in recognition that some customers want to pay by card rather than cash. We set up a website and social media accounts, which have helped us share our news and information, and also added fast WiFi for customers to use, extended our opening hours and became dog-friendly.

Our customers were asking for some new drinks and snacks so we added these to the cellar – a small range of white and red wines including Cava and Rose, new drinks on draught including Birra Moretti and Strongbow, a Guinness surge unit for ‘near-like’ draught Guinness, new non-alcoholic beers, additional soft drinks including a range of Fentimans plus some bottled beers from local micro-breweries First & Last Brewery in Elsdon and Muckle Brewing in Haltwhistle. We also installed new lines and pumps and purchased a bigger fridge, a glass washer, an ice making machine and some new glasses. 

We have started the pub’s refurbishment works, focusing on the outside areas before the winter. We have had the roof repaired, the walls repointed, some damp work done, new external wooden doors fitted to the rear garages, toilets and shop, added seating to the courtyard and improved the lighting/seating at the front of the pub. We have added a new notice board to the front of the pub and an electronic one in the rear shop area to share news and what’s on information, and have cut back the rear garden so we can start to think about the landscaping.

We opened a small village shop at the rear of the pub in mid October with some funding help from Pub is the Hub, and have had very positive feedback about it so far. We have regular deliveries of fresh produce so hopefully can keep up with the demand, although it will take us a little while to work out what items are selling the quickest! We also added ourselves to the #RefillRevolution scheme, providing free tap water, a scheme that is working towards reducing plastic pollution.

We have kept a lot of the local events going – quiz nights, dominoes, darts and traditional music as these are all popular. We are also adding a few new things, including beer tasting, gin tasting, a Halloween Party, pooled curry night supper with more events coming in the new year.

The time has flown by and we have learnt a lot with more to learn. We are both delighted and humbled by the extremely warm welcome we have received from everyone since we moved here. Thank you for all of the kind wishes and continued support, it is very much appreciated.

What’s next?

During the next 3 months we will be getting new windows fitted, undertaking the electrical rewiring, adding a bike rack to the courtyard and refurbishing the pub’s toilets. We will also be liaising with the Northumberland National Park for some planning permissions we need for works to one of the outbuildings. Most of our time over the winter months will be spent renovating the living quarters above the pub so that we can hopefully move in during March.

We are also planning to introduce our first real ale on a hand pump and hot drinks and cake – watch this space!

Karen and Phil