New management team ploughs on at Alnwick pub
A historic Alnwick pub that has seen its fair share of changes in recent years has embarked on its latest chapter, with a new boss steering the tiller.
Clare Iniesta, who has worked at The Plough pub and boutique hotel, in Bondgate Without, for 11 years in various roles, has taken over the reins from David Whitehead, who has left to concentrate on his other business interests, including The Jolly Fisherman, at Craster.
And as the new licensee and manager, she has quickly cultivated a strong team of existing staff around her - her assistant manager Amy Bloom, 21, who is also her niece, and restaurant manager Charlotte Yeoman, 19, already know the ropes.
"I am very excited by the challenge," said Clare, 41. "It's not going to be easy and I am slightly daunted, but I'm sure this team will make a good job of it. I have to give huge credit to the girls, they have been great."
The pub changed hands on Monday (April 1) and by Tuesday, it was already open for business and serving customers. Although the restaurant has been operating a limited food selection all week, they are hoping to have the full Beef Club menu up and running soon.
"We are not looking to make any drastic changes, we want to build on what we have been doing for the last four years under David. I don't want it to be cheap and cheerful, but it has to be affordable, relaxed and not at all pretentious."
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The pub will continue to be owned by Punch Taverns, which has already promised to give the place a bit of a revamp to freshen it up and refit the kitchen.
Clare knows the challenges and the pitfalls, having worked in the hospitality industry for 25 years.
"I fell into it by accident, but haven't looked back," she says.
She started at the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick and left as deputy general manager having done a 10-year stint. She then spent four years at the Cook and Barker at Newton on the Moor, where she started as restaurant manager, with her husband Juan as chef, and then manager, before moving to The Plough.
"We are hopefully going to continue the band nights every month, we want to give people a reason to come out, we don't want this to become just a drinking pub," said Clare, who is also planning some theme nights.