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Friends Rob Bailey and Mark Sidebotham will be re-opening the Earl Grey pub in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 07, 2014

  • Friends Mark Sidebotham and Rob Bailey will be re-opening the Earl Grey pub in Leek.

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Two friends who have 20 years experience of the pub trade between them are joining forces to re-open a Leek inn.

The Earl Grey, in Ashbourne Road, which used to have a 'front room' feel, has been closed for four years.

Now dairy farmer Robert Walker, who purchased the venue at auction, has carried out an extensive refurbishment on the property, turning into a larger pub with a traditional feel.

Leek men Rob Bailey and Mark Sidebotham are currently going through the process of taking on the lease for the free house and hope to re-pen its doors soon.

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Father-of-one Rob, aged 38, who was born and bred in Leek, said: "We will be aiming to provide good ale and good service."

Mark, aged 35, said: "We are going for more of a traditional pub focusing on the more discerning drinker."

Mark, who is a brewery technician at Whim Ales Brewery, Hartington, has run a pub before and was also the resident steward at Leek Golf Club for three years.

He explained that he and Rob aim to keep The Earl Grey as 'local' as possible.

He said: "We will be offering a range of real ales that have been brewed within 25 miles.

"We will be avoiding national brands.

"We hope to compliment the blossoming Real Ale Trail in Leek. It's like the Totally Locally initiative where trade is mutually beneficial.

"We also aim to build up a selection of malt whiskeys as a nod to The Earl Grey of old."

Mark added: "We chose The Earl Grey because it is free of tie and it's small so we can concentrate on supplying good beer.

"I see that there is a lot of gastro pubs in this country and the focus on beer has been lost."

Rob, who has been the bar manager of a town centre pub for the past five years, said of the 50/50 partnership he and Mark will have in the running of the Earl Grey: "It was a no brainer really about going into partnership.

"I know our personalities will be beneficial to the pub and we have a lot of experience in the trade between us."

Rob and Mark will be employing two bar staff and will become members of the town's Pubwatch scheme.

No date has been set yet for the reopening of The Earl Grey.

Rob said: "We are hoping that it will be within the next month or so but it is all in the hands of the solicitors at the moment.

"We have already got a lot of eager anticipation from people who want to check out The Earl Grey once it re-opens."

The Earl Grey will be a dog friendly pub and the lads are aiming to offer live acoustic music from time to time, including being involved in the second Blues and Americana Music Festival set to take place in Leek in October.

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