Ashbourne News Telegraph

Pub’s amazing comeback


A VILLAGE inn that was closed for 10 years is celebratin­g after being crowned Derbyshire Pub of the Year in what has been one of the most challengin­g times for hospitalit­y.

The Cock Inn, in Mugginton near Ashbourne, is one of 94 pubs across the UK to scoop a county title in the National Pub & Bar Awards.

After reopening, outside in April, and inside in May, it was visited by a mystery judge, who was clearly impressed by what they witnessed at the country pub which has built up a reputation for its mouth-watering food and picturesqu­e surroundin­gs.

Pub owners were judged on knowledge and execution, design, team training, food and drink, investment, marketing and events.

The pub has stood at the junction of Bullhurst Lane and Church Lane for centuries and in the 18th and 19th centuries the turnpike road formed part of a key route from London to Manchester.

In 2006 the inn ceased trading and stood empty for 10 years until it was taken over by the locally owned Berkeley Inns chain headed up by Howard Thacker and given a major makeover and extended to create a contempora­ry style restaurant.

Spokeswoma­n Dawn-elizabeth Rudd said: “We always strive for excellence and build on this year on year, improving and upgrading and we are relentless in our quest to deliver an exemplary service.

“We are a relatively small business that relies on reputation, awards, and accolades such as The National Pub and Bar Awards to grow and thrive.

“It is an amazing achievemen­t for us and our staff not to mention a massive morale booster to all within our establishm­ent.

“Despite the challengin­g world we face with the huge financial responsibi­lities, we continue to provide only the finest quality food and drink offer for miles around and are recognised throughout the Midlands for our exacting standards and high levels of customer service.

“We are consistent with delivering an all-round exemplary dining experience and now with the addition of our dining environmen­ts we can provide rather special and unique experience­s for our visitors and local residents.

“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do, and we are fortunate to have a passionate and talented team of profession­als who literally go above and beyond every day to provide an exemplary service for our visitors from far and wide.

“We are so incredibly proud of everyone at the Cock Inn, it is testament to all their hard work, strength, and commitment that we have been successful in winning this incredible award again for our county.

“These have been dark days for our industry, and we have endeavoure­d to rise to every challenge with fortitude and desire to serve our community, adapting and implementi­ng measures to ensure our environmen­ts are safe whilst still providing convivial dining experience­s despite the complexiti­es of the global pandemic.”

The pub boasts a menu serving Derbyshire beef, lobster and crayfish linguine, summery asparagus and spinach risotto and a burger dubbed the Big Mick. On Sundays the focus is on roasts with locally-sourced meat including Derbyshire lamb and beef, plus free-range chicken and pork.

During the pandemic five garden pods were installed to provide customers with a safe outdoor space plus a number of picnic benches and a stretch tent canopy.

“The luxury garden rooms are equipped with Wifi, music and heaters with menus protected underneath glass table tops which could be easy sanitised after each visit,” said Dawn.

“After each customer visit, our garden rooms were stringentl­y checked and steam cleaned. We invested heavily in PPE to keep our customers and staff safe at all times which has always been our top priority.”

During the first lockdown the pub remained opened to provide a takeaway service and provided free meals for people over 70 twice a week, while the outside bar was adapted into a village store.

Dawn said: “There is no other way of describing the devastatin­g effects this global pandemic has had on our industry and rural communitie­s.

“The great British pub is now under serious threat, dating back for almost 200 years in our heritage, it is the cornerston­e of our community which brings people together and this has been much in evidence during this global pandemic.

“We have shown that despite the (problems) that this pandemic has caused to so many that we have been able to support in a different way and adapt and remain strong and resilient.”

Since so-called “freedom day”, last Monday, with the lifting of restrictio­ns for wearing face masks and social distancing, the pub has retained certain safety measures.

Although customers can now order at the bar, they can still be served at the table by staff who will continue to wear face masks.

Hand sanitiser is available throughout along with the option to sign into the Test and Trace app if customers wish to do so.

By putting pubs in the spotlight as the summer holidays and staycation­s begin, the list of winners will help food and drink lovers to discover which locals have been selected as the best in every area of the country.

The pubs will be officially crowned at a red carpet celebratio­n in London on September 6.

The next stage for the Cock Inn is trying to win best pub in the East Midlands.

As well as announcing 15 regional winners on the night, the overall National Pub & Bar of the Year winner will be revealed.

Tristan O’hana, editor of Pub & Bar magazine, which hosts the event, said: “I think their own words sum the pub up perfectly ‘A compelling dining and entertaini­ng experience to meet the growing demand for a quality food and drink offering in a well appointed, warm and convivial venue – a more than worthy winner for Derbyshire.”

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 ??  ?? The Cock Inn stood empty for 10 years until it was taken over by the locally owned Berkeley Inns chain
The Cock Inn stood empty for 10 years until it was taken over by the locally owned Berkeley Inns chain
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Garden huts

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