Customers persuade couple to save Radlett pub

A POPULAR pub has been saved from closure by a former landlord who has re-purchased the lease.

Dominic Ingram and his wife Elizabeth bought the Cat and Fiddle in Watling Street, Radlett, in 1985, and built it up to become a thriving business before selling it in 2004 to someone who walked into the pub and gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

It continued to be run as a pub, one of the conditions of them selling up, but it was put on the market this year due to falling business and was set to be snapped up by a restaurant chain until the couple were talked into intervening by locals desperate to save their watering hole.

Dominic, 58, who lives opposite, explained: “The landlord put the pub on the market and approached me to ask if I was interested and I spoke to the family and we thought definitely not. The trade was so depressed but when we left the trade was really good. Things have changed in the pub industry over the last couple of years, it has really hit rock bottom.

“We were then approached by our solicitor of all people, who said it was going to be sold to a restaurant company and a number of the locals didn’t want that to happen. If you think of all the pubs between here and St Albans there were about 10, but now there are about two, and there are lots of restaurants in Radlett. There were people I didn’t even know approaching me and saying that I have got to take the pub back.”

But dad-of-two Dominic, who plays cricket for Radlett and is vice president of its rugby club, remained unconvinced and it took three of his fellow rugby club members to coerce him into considering the idea on a night out.

He continued: “I had a meeting with about 20 local people and they said they could all add some value. Our accountant has given us access to his marketing people, I have people helping with the decoration – things I’m no good at. They’re acting as ambassadors.

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“We have done an awful lot already. We want to turn it back into a traditional village pub that also does good, simple, food – nothing flash, nothing expensive, nothing corporate. We want individuality.

“It’s kind of like coming home, the only difference is trade is nothing like it used to be. It will take us ages to build it back up, but there are lots of people to help. And they’re not just saying they’ll pop in and buy a drink and support us, they’re asking what they can do. It is really encouraging. And it will work. But if it weren’t for these people we definitely wouldn’t have done it. “

And Dominic, who also runs a successful pub in Westminster, is happy with the decision despite the fact that he will now have to work more hours and over the weekends to put the Cat and Fiddle back on the map.

He added: “To me this is a really good story of people wanting to keep their local pub going out of their way to do it. We would never have come back unless we had that support.”