Thu, 22 Aug 2019
ASK owner of The Newbury Pete Lumber what the town centre pub’s vibe is he will say: “Everything about it is a reflection of me and my personality”.
It is an extremely successful approach, which has resulted in a thriving business that offers a diverse experience, depending on what you are looking for in a pub.
“When I arrived, there was just one room with the bar and a kitchen at the back,” says Pete.
“We expanded it and kitted it out as a comfortable welcoming area where you could sit in the lounge part and have a drink and a chat, or take one of the tables and have a meal.”
The pub is particularly busy in the evenings and all day at weekends and Pete has ensured more customers come through the door with two great additions.
The first was the roof terrace. “I realised that on hot days our numbers were decreasing, so I opened up an area upstairs to create a terrace and it is really popular.”
But it is perhaps Pete’s second innovation that has proved a real game changer for him. “I love creating and I thought it would be great to create our own gin,” says Pete.
Eighteen months later and he opened The Distillery at the back of the pub. This is the room where Pete creates and stills the pub’s own gins, called Bart St, 137 and Lumber.
How did he go about creating his own artisan gins?
“I bought a still and visited a friend who makes his own gin. Then I developed about 140 different ones and, after some blind tasting and tweaking, whittled it down to 20 and from there to the four we now have.
“I absolutely love making the gin and we’ve also been shortlisted for the Gin Guide Awards, our navy-strength gin is one of the top in the country.”
Pete’s not kidding when he says he does it all himself – from stilling, to bottling, to labelling. And he also holds regular gin experiences – the room can hold up to 16 people – which have been a huge success. You can either book as a group or join in the open session held every other Thursday.
Another measure of the popularity of Pete’s gin is the fact that it is also stocked at Newbury Racecourse, as well as pub/restaurants such as The Blackbird, Bagnor and The Harrow, Little Bedwyn. as well as far afield as Dublin, London and Manchester.
Originally from Bristol, Pete has adopted Newbury as his new home and is committed to being a part of the thriving independent business community that he sees as essential to the town’s future growth.
“Newbury is a great market town, with a lot to offer,” says Pete. “And I want to keep The Newbury at the heart of it.”
There’s no danger of it being otherwise – the Sunday roast sharing platters are a roaring success, the pub offers a wide selection of wine by the glass and a diverse spirit range.
It will also soon be offering a new weekend breakfast menu complete with cocktail list.
The Newbury was recently named best bar in the Thames Valley for the second time in two years and it is easy to see why.
And with live bands and music on offer as well, there is much to draw people to the town centre pub.
The Newbury, 137 Barthomolew Street,
Newbury, RG14 5HB Phone: (01635) 49000