Major redevelopment for landmark St Albans pub

The Great Northern pub, St Albans

The Great Northern pub, St Albans - Credit: Archant

A 35-year-old City financier decided to ditch the rat race to pursue his love of fine food and drink in his home town.

Dan Gibney, an ex-Verulam School pupil, was working in corporate finance, when he fancied a change.

He looked into how he could acquire the Great Northern pub, in London Road, St Albans, before quitting his high-flying job and is now the new landlord.

Dan will be running the pub with two co-owners, who are his friends.

They are renovating it and plan to open early next year. It will be independently run, under a long leasehold, and not tied to a brewery.

He said: “The progression was good in the City but after a while, my heart wasn’t really in it. I got more of a feel for hospitality.

“Having spoken to friends in the industry, I realised it seemed a good way of combining what interests me – good food and wine – with my job.

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“I started negotiating the long lease while still working and then, when it looked likely, I handed in my resignation.”

Although it’s his first pub, Dan’s plan is to find a business model that works and if it is popular, open other venues in the area, and possibly London.

The historic pub is conveniently situated next to the revamped former Odeon cinema – now called Odyssey - which is set to open soon.

Dan said: “Our aim is to contribute to the redevelopment of the street and be part of an attractive new neighbourhood.

“It has to be said that a couple of years ago the street was looking a bit downtrodden with several boarded-up buildings.

“We are now seeing an exciting change, whereby these buildings are being renovated and turned into restaurants and boutique shops.

“We hope that it will be particularly attractive to cinema-goers, giving them more options for pre or post show dining and drinking.”

The pub closed in early November for refurbishment, including installation of a new kitchen and improvements to the beer garden.

The Great Northern is expected to keep its name and the owners are keen to preserve the building and Victorian heritage of the pub.

It was named after the old Great Northern Railway, which was established in the 19th Century.

Dan added: “It will be a fun place for families and individuals. A friendly hospitable pub-restaurant; not stuffy.

“When it opens, it will look and feel a lot smarter.

“The selection of drinks and food on offer will appeal to a certain market. The market is turning here. It’s a lovely area.”