Local entrepreneur, Debbie Topping took over the Horse & Jockey the day before lockdown in March 2020. Some may say she couldn’t have chosen a worse time to take on her first independent pub business but rather than see the negative, Debbie and her partner Brian spent the closure time transforming the pub inside and out. The pub has 30 covers inside and they increased capacity by utilising a dormant outside area by adding 170 covers in two covered gazebos, a cocktail area, benches with winter igloo pods and decking. A fully equipped draught outside bar was installed by Red Oak with an external sports viewing zone to finish it off. Debbie and Brian also redecorated the whole of the interior of the pub and upgraded the kitchen so that they could launch their food offer. Now 16 months on, turnover has quadrupled and the pub has the best outdoor trading area in the town with bookings made weeks in advance and offers fantastic street food, cocktails, wine list and premium beers.
Speaking about her now renowned and very popular pub, Debbie said, “Taking on a pub as we entered a lockdown and then working with the restrictions on trading forced us to adapt and so we have created a very unique and special pub for the town and nearby Liverpool. Having the local knowledge has meant we could totally reposition the offer and create a great venue for everyone who just didn’t have anywhere to go. Red Oak has been invaluable during this time, supporting us with investment and rental discounts during the numerous lockdowns plus they provided extensive advice on grants and other help we could get. Their agreements are also flexible which has made creating our own cocktails, gin and rum menus and new wine list distinctive as we are free to source unique spirits and wines”.
Business development manager for Red Oak, Barry Lee said, “Working with someone like Debbie is an absolute privilege. She knows what the customers want and she works hard to deliver that. We are so impressed with what she has achieved at the pub and as a result we are investing in a full internal refurbishment later this year”.
Not one to stand still, Debbie has also just taken her second pub with Red Oak, The Star Inn at Statham, Lymm. Plans are in place to create a similar offer to the Horse & Jockey with work already started on the exterior. There will be a new menu, cocktails and new draught products alongside regular acoustic music nights, sports viewing and quizzes.