Award-winning Chesterfield pub owner calls time on his seven-year reign

A landlord who transformed an unloved pub in Chesterfield into an award-winning destination for beer drinkers will pull his final pint this weekend.

Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 12:49 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 1:05 pm
Garry Norton behind the bar at The Neptune Beer Emporium, Chesterfield.

Garry Norton is retiring from The Neptune Beer Emporium on St Helens Street that he has owned for seven years.

He said: "I love my customers very much and I will miss them fondly - they have been an education to me. The human nature of the pubgoing customer is a wonderful thing to behold - all people are very different and you never cease to be amazed by them.

"As it gets closer towards the end, I'm getting a bit nostalgic and remembering what brilliant times and parties we've had. Our Sunday open mics have been legend – we've had some incredible talent from all over the place come down and find us.

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Garry Norton is proud of what has been achieved at The Neptune Beer Emporium since he bought the pub seven years ago.

"Sunday will be my final hurrah and we've got an open mic from 4pm until whenever everyone's had enough. I'll be getting up to do some songs - they can't stop me!”

Garry is proud of what has been achieved at The Neptune Beer Emporium where live-in manager Sarah Bufton will continue in her role under its new owners Jason Davies and his wife Sally Ruane-Davies.

He said: "When we took The Neptune over seven years ago it was in a poor state of repair, a very unloved pub that no-one went in. We’ve transformed it, spent at least £100,000, added some fabulous beers and it has become a destination place. It’s been Chesterfield CAMRA’s pub of the year in 2020 and 2021 and been nominated every year since we’ve had it.”

However, owning a pub is hard work and 65-year-old Garry admits that he is tired. He said: “The worst part is having to be there seven days a week or if you’re not there, being on call seven days a week.

Garry Norton, back row left, with customers outside The Neptune Beer Emporium on St Helens Street, Chesterfield.

"You’re responsible for employing people and their livelihood so you have to keep going for their sake.

"Covid didn’t do us any favours. We lost a lot of money like a lot of pubs but we managed to get through it, some pubs didn’t. Other pubs don’t enjoy the profit margin of a freehouse so that really is how we survived.”

Garry, of Cobden Road, Chesterfield, has a partner Alison Whittaker, a son James, daughters Lucy and Sophie, a granddaughter Annabelle, 7, and grandson Benni, 3.

A professional bass guitarist before taking on The Neptune, Garry is looking forward to playing gigs again at pubs in and around Chesterfield.

Garry Norton will pull his last pint at The Neptune Beer Emporium this weekend.

During retirement he’ll be popping back to The Neppy, as the pub is colloquially known, to enjoy a drink as a customer on the other side of the bar. Garry said: “Like the hashtag says on our website, it’s all about the beer!”

Under its new owners the pub’s beers will remain the same, live music will continue and food will return, said Garry. He added: “We used to do Sunday lunches but stopped when Covid hit and haven't restarted it.”

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