One of Blackpool’s most historic pubs, The Cedar Tavern in Cedar Square, reopens on Monday, followed by a Grand Reopening Party on Wednesday, featuring popular band Brother Rabbit.
The Cedar Tavern closed its doors in the spring and has remained empty since.
Now local businessman Stephen Pierre – who already runs The Galleon on Abingdon Street and Nellie Deans on North Promenade – has come to its rescue.
“Earlier this year I was approached by the freeholder Thwaites Brewery and asked whether I would be interested in taking it on,” says Stephen.
“At first, I was reluctant due to other commitments.
“But when I looked at its potential, I discussed the matter further with a friend and business associate Jon Bamborough.
“I did some research and found Blackpool does not have a pub fringe theatre.
“In London, I often attend fringe theatre productions staged in the backroom or upstairs of a pub.
“These intimate productions are often organised by professional actors, writers, directors or students wishing to showcase their abilities to casting agents and so forth.”
He also discovered the upstairs room at the Cedar Tavern has the capacity to stage fringe theatre productions, a comedy club and poetry evenings.
Known as The Gallery, it could also be used for meetings and community support groups, he says.
“The days of just opening the doors of a pub and expecting customers to flock in are well and truly over,” says Stephen.
“Over the past decade, traditional pubs have lost a lot of day trade.
“Cheap alcohol deals at supermarkets and the smoking ban have certainly had some impact towards the demise of the British pub trade.”
He is confident though that “during these testing times if run properly there will always be a market for good traditional town centre pubs”.
He now plans to host open mic evenings and attract music acts from all over the North West to showcase their talents.
“We also aim to develop the Cedar Tavern into a destination venue for fans of real ales,” he says.
“Despite record losses announced from several breweries during this recession, real ales are becoming popular again.
“Micro breweries are popping up all over the place, which is a good sign that younger drinkers are becoming connoisseurs of conditioned cask ales.
“Like we have done at The Galleon Bar, we have purchased a large stock of music posters to create the right atmosphere.
“I can also dedicate a section of the Cedar Tavern to display the interesting heritage of Blackpool, featuring all the landmarks and the 125-year traditional tramway, of which I have been a lifelong enthusiast.”
At The Galleon, he says he has now created a local market which “returns week after week”, so has extended the free 10 per cent discount loyalty card available at Nellie Deans and The Galleon Bar to the new venue.
To help with the venture, he has recruited Mark Flitter, a friend from London who visited Blackpool a few months ago and “fell in love with the place.”
He has now taken a sabbatical from his stressful day job to join Stephen’s Utopia management team.
As an incentive to try the Cedar Tavern, over 60s can get a 15 per cent drinks discount during the day.