A PUB landlord has launched a petition to continue serving his ‘homecooked’ food - and has the backing of 400 customers already.
Stefan Moverley, 31, fears the Devonshire Arms pub in Upper Langwith, which is owned by Marston’s, could soon impose a contract in which he is forced to adopt the firm’s chain menu.
He says has helped treble the profits at the pub since taking over in May last year, a success he puts down to his own menu.
But Marston’s have suggested that he sign a ‘retail agreement’, a contract in which he takes 20 per cent of net takings at the Rectory Road establishment, but must use his cut to pay staff, VAT and council tax amongst other necessities.
Although Stefan says the deal is not ‘financially viable’ anyway, the biggest issue he has is with the menu, with Marston’s saying he must serve the standard menu they use across their pub chain if he enters the agreement.
Regulars have rallied to support Stefan’s fight against the changes, with more than 400 signing a petition.
Stefan, who is a trained chef, said: “The real bugbear for us is that we would have to serve their food and we don’t want to do that.
“The menu they want us to use is like a Wetherspoon’s-type menu, which you can get anywhere. Everything is controlled by them and that’s not what we’re about.
“We want proper homecooked food. This has become a destination pub and we’ve built up a reputation of serving good food.”
Originally from Sheffield, and running a pub in North Wales before taking over at the Devonshire Arms, Stefan said much of the frustration stems from a lack of communication from Marston’s.
The pub had been on the market for three years before he took over, but its reputation continues to grow with more than 4,000 diners visiting the pub in December, including 90-plus on Christmas Day.
However, he says his case is falling on deaf ears with the brewery.
“We want to put our case forward. but nobody at Marston’s is willing talk to us.
“The customers and the area is great, we love it here and we don’t want to go, but we will if we have to.”
A spokesperson on behalf of Marston’s said: “Marston’s makes any decisions about the future of its pubs based on what they feel the local area and business needs. Nothing has been set in stone regarding the future of this pub’s agreement.”
Over 400 names have been added to the list already in the hope that Marston’s will take note of the fierce opposition to changes
One supporter, Jenny Drew, said Stefan and his staff had done a wonderful job since taking over at the Devonshire Arms
“They have done a tremendous job of turning around the business,” she said.
“They provide excellent value for money food which in these days of austerity is really hard to find.”