Swan Inn is bucking pub trend
WITH publicans being encouraged to serve food to survive one city centre bar is doing just the opposite – and thriving.
The Swan Inn, in St Andrew's Street, was previously run as a pub-co bistro, under different names.
But when Leroy Lander bought the pub, with sleeping partner William Laverick, just over 18 months ago, he decided to focus on ale.
He changed the name, previously called Big Wigs because of its proximity to the magistrates court, to The Swan – its name from 1823.
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And he stuck to selling real ales and ciders, which has paid off landing the pub a coveted slot in Camra's Good Beer Guide 2013.
"We decided to try a traditional pub with real ale and cider," Mr Lander said. "We have pasties, sandwiches and snacks, but not a plated meal.
"Too many pubs try to diversify. If you go out for a meal you don't want to be surrounded by people drinking, and vice versa.
"So despite starting in the depths of a recession we are still here and it's going really well.
"A traditional pub is bringing them in."
The Swan's Good Beer Guide entry mentions its "traditional pub feel" and "interesting collection of unusual bottled beers on display in cabinets".
"I believe being in the guide will increase our business significantly," said Mr Lander, who previously ran the Woodside and Hawkins Meeting House pubs.
He said having the freehold gave him the option to drop prices.
"And I'm not limited where I can get stock from," he said.
Mr Lander also renegotiated on his TV feed and went through a successful business rates review.
He said it was prudent to work at getting fixed costs, such as utilities, as low as possible too.
"We've reduced water usage by 30 per cent," he said. "We've got low energy lights and other equipment runs on timers."
Mr Lander is now looking ahead, to bringing in ale festivals to mark St George's Day, and events around Christmas and New Year, and is considering "mulled cider instead of mulled wine".