Friendliness of regulars inspires local operator to take on pub lease and invest in a major upgrade

The Friendly Inn in Frankton, the only the pub in the village and a popular destination for walkers and cyclists, is to close for a £130,000 revamp by local pub company Claret Enterprises Ltd. and Heineken owned Star Pubs. Building work starts on 2nd April. The family and dog friendly local will reopen on 26th April with three new jobs created.
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Claret Enterprises, run by James Porter, had been running the pub on a temporary basis since June 2023. However, James was so taken by the support and friendliness of the pub’s regulars that he decided to take on the lease of The Friendly Inn.

James, who also has The Golden Cross and The Town Crier in Coventry, renowned for their cuisine, was keen to put The Friendly Inn back on the map for its food. Since running the pub he has introduced a menu of pub classics done to a high standard using fresh great quality ingredients. The cottage pie uses slow cooked beef rather than mince and the chili is made from pulled beef, fish and chips include cod fillets and freshly made batter with gluten free options. There are also specials such as gammon and black pudding hash and liver and onions. The menu is to have a refresh when it reopens including offering fresh cakes and scones for the first time, which will be available during normal opening hours.

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Quality is also important when it comes to drinks. James has introduced two cask ales and will be doubling the number when the pub reopens. He has also added premium lagers such as Birra Moretti and Beavertown craft ale and barista style fresh coffee.

L-R James Porter, licensee, and pub manager Craig McLatchieL-R James Porter, licensee, and pub manager Craig McLatchie
L-R James Porter, licensee, and pub manager Craig McLatchie

Funds are being spent on a redecoration of the pub exterior, which will be painted in white and sage green with new signage, lighting and hanging baskets. A new front door is being fitted more in keeping with the building’s historic character. The gazebo is to be re-roofed and have new heating, lights and bric-a-brac. A level area is being created for alfresco eating and dining with wooden tables and chairs and picnic tables and benches.

Inside the pub will undergo a sympathetic redecoration in soft green and shades of brown with feature wallpaper of birds and stags creating a smarter look and feel. The timber floor is to be renovated and there will be a mix of refurbished and new fixed and freestanding furniture. The bric-a-brac is also being replaced and new carpets and glass and pendant lantern style wall lights fitted. Covers will be increased to 40 in the restaurant and 30 in the bar area.

James’s plans for The Friendly Inn are for it to remain a traditional village pub. He has already introduced a monthly quiz and acoustic live music evenings and installed a projector so that villagers can watch major live sporting events such as Six Nations, Euros and the World Cup. He is delighted to continue to host the village’s skittles tables and is installing a dart board.

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Says James: “We’re keen to set up darts teams to compliment the skittles teams so if anyone is interested, please do get in touch.

James PorterJames Porter
James Porter

“I want to say thank you to the Frankton residents and those from the surrounding villages that use the pub. The name couldn’t be more apt. It’s because of the incredibly warm welcome that you gave the team and me that we’ve decided to take on The Friendly Inn. I also want to thank the fantastic staff who have risen to the occasion and helped lived up to the pub’s name.

“I love old buildings. Both The Golden Cross and The Friendly Inn date back to the 16th century. It’s wonderful to think that people have been socialising and enjoying themselves for centuries in these special places, of which we’re the guardians.

“I can’t wait to open the doors again and give the village the pub it deserves. In the meantime, our last day before closing, the 1st April we’ll just be serving drinks. We’ll be looking to drink the pub dry so that we can replace all the back of house elements like new lines and tills. So do come on down and help us.”

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Says Nathan Darby, Star Pubs Business Development Manager: “James and his team have been welcomed with open arms by the community. They have worked hard to make the pub the beating heart of the village once again. He’s a great licensee with a passion for quality. The refurbishment will take The Friendly Inn up a notch – in keeping with the improved service - but retain its character. I wish James, his team and the customers of The Friendly Inn many happy days ahead.”