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Cheshire publican targets female pub-goers with food-led venue The Black Swan

By Peter Ruddick , 21-Sep-2012
Last updated on 21-Sep-2012 at 16:36 GMT

The Black Swan pub in Cheshire has re-opened after a six-month, £500k refurb with the new owner targeting female pub-goers with the food-led venue which she hopes will be the first of a number of sites.

Sharon Bardsley, who also operates The Swan Hotel & Spa in Cumbria which was closed for six months during recent floods,  acquired her local, The Black Swan in Lower Withington, at the beginning of the year.

Girly

"The renovation started in April - it had been renovated prior to us buying it but it had taken all the character away and we wanted to put that back in," Bardsley told BigHospitality.

Flagstone floors, timber beams and open wood fires all feature in the new design.

The businesswoman said she had been keen to open a community hub, bring back the authenticity of the site and attract new custom.

"Living locally I felt it would be so nice to have a proper local that was part of the community and did really good food and cask ales. We put everything into it that I wanted out of a local and I felt that the whole community would appreciate."

"For women pubs can be quite dark places," Bardsley argued.

"The Black Swan is very light - I wanted to make sure it wasn't somewhere you just went in the evening. It is quite girly in some ways - there is quite a lot of florals - to appeal to ladies as well as hardened drinkers in the evening."

All-day opening

Both The Black Swan and the Lake District hotel, which also features a pub on site, are family-owned and while Bardsley is keen to operate strong community venues she hopes to build on any success and expand the business.

"If The Black Swan does as well as we hope it will, and as well as The Swan Hotel & Spa, we hope it is the first of many - that is the plan. We weren't planning on buying The Black Swan - it just happened! So it could be something in the Lakes, it could be something in Cheshire - who knows?"

However the focus will be on opening pubs as opposed to new hotels or standalone restaurants although food, as far as the publican is concerned, remains the key to success.

"For us it is all about really good food. We serve it all day - Mums can come in with their kids in the morning for coffee, ladies can come in for lunch then for an early kids tea or going out for dinner with friends and family. I wanted to make sure it was for everybody and it was not limited by only serving between 12 and 2 and then dinner - I wanted it to be a hub," she said.

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