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Landmark Shirley Pub to close for major investment

30/09/2021

A landmark Shirley local is to receive a £350,000 refurbishment that will transform it into a great quality family-friendly pub with one of the best sports and games rooms in the area.

The investment at The Red Lion on Stratford Road is being undertaken by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and Solihull born-and-bred local residents Nick Johnson and Mark Caldicott.The duo also run the award-winning Bulls Head at Barston, and their families were both regulars of The Red Lion in its hey day.

The pub will close from the 4th October and is scheduled to reopen in early December, creating 30 new jobs. To mark its new direction, The Red Lion is to be renamed The Lion Sport & Eat.

The project will completely change the exterior of the tired 1950s pub to bring it into keeping with neighbouring buildings and enhance the centre of Shirley. The transformation will repaint The Lion in a dark charcoal colour and add new cladding, lighting and signs. Flower baskets, topiary hedges and café style seating on the pavement outside will complete the look. A little-used concrete courtyard behind the pub will become a stunning 32-seater alfresco space with funky wall art, new furniture, a big screen and a covered all-weather area.

An equally dramatic revamp of the pub’s dated interior will make it more stylish and contemporary, installing leather-covered booths with their own mini TVs. A new kitchen will enable Nick and Mark to introduce more food. Dishes will focus on street food such as burgers, ribs and wings, and children will have their own menu of traditional favourites. All the meals will be made from scratch using ingredients sourced from nearby farms and suppliers. The pair are putting in a top-of-the-range barista-quality coffee machine and will serve hot drinks and homemade cakes.

To complement the food, Nick and Mark are overhauling the cellar with state-of-the-art dispense equipment to ensure consistently perfect pints. The business partners will seek Cask Marque accreditation and have 11 beers on tap plus a wide selection of premium spirits, wines and cocktails.

Sports enthusiasts will be well catered for, too, with a dedicated games room kitted out with its own bar, pool table, darts boards and screens for enjoying live sports. The pub is also keen to start pool and darts teams and to sponsor local football teams.

Nick and Mark want The Lion’s new facilities to benefit the community at large. To that end they will open the games room up for meetings of local organisations and charities as well as for private functions like celebrations with family and friends.

Says Nick: “Shirley is a really vibrant town, and we feel incredibly fortunate to have found a pub here. We both have a real affection for The Lion having known it all our lives. It’s an iconic Shirley institution, and there’s been lots of interest in its future. Whilst other buildings in the middle of town have been upgraded, The Lion has been left behind and stands out. We want to give it the TLC and investment it needs to be an asset to Shirley once again. We’re aiming to provide something for everyone, whether they are after a family lunch, an afternoon coffee or a great night out.”

Adds Star Pubs & Bars area manager Jacqueline Frow: “Nick and Mark are fantastic licensees with a great reputation locally. They’ve revived The Bulls Head and put it back on the map. I’ve every confidence they’ll work the same magic at The Lion. Their plans for The Lion are exciting, and just what the town needs. Shirley residents are in for a treat.” 

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