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Make it a double! Chatteris licensee receives prestigious award and reopens historic pub
It’s a double celebration at the historic George Hotel on the High Street in Chatteris. Not only has the pub reopened following lockdown 2.0 but licensee Robbie Lyons has received a prestigious long service award to mark his twentieth anniversary at the helm.
The award from the pub’s owner, Star Pubs & Bars, highlights the contribution that Robbie has made to local life, which includes providing the electricity for Chatteris’ famous Christmas Lights.
Since taking over The George in 2000, Robbie has transformed it from a little used, unloved local into a hub of the community employing 15 staff. As well as investing in a major refurbishment, Robbie has created an 80-seat garden with space for children to play, revamped the letting rooms, introduced entertainment and fundraisers for local charities and brought in home made food featuring Irish stew and Sunday roasts as specialties. The changes revived The George’s fortunes attracting families and people of all ages including residents who had never visited before.
The Grade II listed pub has been a landmark of Chatteris since the 1750s. During the 1800’s, The George was a coaching inn with a six -horse carriage leaving for London every three days. An old ticket from those days now has pride of place on the wall. Says Robbie: “The building is a rabbit warren. There’s even a small door upstairs leading to a space between the walls that’s big enough to walk around the pub in.”
Robbie has been in the hospitality industry for four decades and says 2020 has been the toughest year to date. “I love the social side of running a pub and missed all the regulars during the lockdowns. It felt very strange to come down to an empty pub. It’s fantastic to be open in time for Christmas.”
With many wet led pubs remaining closed in Tier 2, Robbie feels fortunate to be back behind the bar at The George. “I feel extremely lucky to have a spacious pub that serves food where people are able to comfortably socially distance. Customers were desperate for The George to reopen. We want to help bring some much-needed Christmas cheer to the area and have really gone to town on the decorations.”
65-year old Robbie, who comes from Ireland, has no intention of leaving Chatteris any time soon. Explains Robbie: “It’s a lovely little town and has become home. The people are fantastic. I can’t thank them enough for their support over the years but particularly during the last nine months. The George has served Chatteris for nearly three centuries and I’m determined to keep it thriving for future generations to enjoy.”
Adds Danni Fraylich, area manager for Star Pubs & Bars: “It’s a great honour to present Robbie with this award. Robbie turned the pub around 20 years ago and has kept it at the top of its game ever since. It’s an outstanding achievement that requires real dedication, skill and a lot of hard work.”
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