The longest-standing Shepherd Neame and Faversham landlord has died.
After more than 45 years behind the bar, Les Koncsik, of the Crown and Anchor, passed away on Tuesday afternoon.
The 75-year-old has been described as a Faversham and Shepherd Neame institution, whose glass was always half full.
Originally from Hungary, he became licensee at the Kings Head in Abbey Street in 1970 and was there for 12 years until he took over the Crown and Anchor in the Mall in 1982 with his late wife Marion.
When he wasn’t pulling pints and serving up some of the best sandwiches in town, Les was renowned for his unique hobbies and interests, including bee-keeping, orchid growing and racing pigeons.
Les’s efforts were recognised last year when he was handed the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Shepherd Neame ceremony.
Chief executive of the brewery Jonathan Neame said: “Les was a Shepherd Neame institution, and will be greatly missed by all at the brewery.
“A true gentleman, he was a much-loved and well-respected landlord.
“He was a unique character, with a very positive outlook on life – his beer glass was always half full. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Les initially moved to the UK from Hungary in 1956, when he was just 16, to pursue a career in engineering.
When he first arrived on English soil, he didn’t speak a word of the language.
He worked in London as a chef, before his life took a different turn once again and he ended up in Faversham in the pubs industry.
On Tuesday evening, staff and regulars gathered at the Crown and Anchor to remember their very special landlord and enjoy a few Master Brews in his memory, Les’s favourite tipple.
One of his long-standing members of staff Ken Walker said: “He was one of the loveliest people I have ever met and he will be missed so much by everyone.
“He would not see anyone in trouble or at a loss and he was always there to help. He would even buy you a drink if you didn’t have any money.
“He was a real gentleman and was known by everyone and helped everyone out. We are all devastated here.”
The grandfather also raised a huge amount of money for various charities over the years.
Les, who was once a Faversham Favourite in the Faversham News, once said that being a pub landlord was not a job, it was a “way of life”.
At the time, he told the Faversham News during his interview: “I am enjoying life as a landlord.
“I have accomplished everything that I am going to accomplish now. I have achieved what I’ve wanted to.
“I have lovely family and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who I am absolutely besotted with.
“When you get to my age, you don’t have any future, you’ve just got history. You’ve only got the now and the past.”
It is unknown as yet how Les died, but he had suffered problems with his heart in recent months and had spent time in hospital.
The Crown and Anchor is currently closed to the public, but the brewery confirmed that the pub will be reopening.
Tributes from Les' fellow landlord/ladies:
Sara Apps from The Bull Inn in Tanners Street: “Everyone knew Les as a true gentleman and we were incredibly upset to hear the news.
“He was your typical, old school landlord, always wearing a shirt and tie and he never look anything less than smart. He was extremely kind and like a father figure to everyone.
"We used to call him Uncle Les. His regulars and staff opened up the pub on Tuesday evening as they knew that is what Les would have wanted.
“He will be remembered for his generosity, kindness and amazing sandwiches.”
David Selves from The Phoenix Tavern in Abbey Street: “Les will be sadly missed.
“There have been many changes in the pubs industry during his long life as a landlord but the basics remain unchanged and he was great at the basics.
“Sadly, the basics are not always applied today – clean lines, well-kept beer, no nonsense and knowing your customers.
"Every town should have a Les and a Crown and Anchor.”
Nuala Brenchley-Sayers from The Vaults in Preston Street: “He was a real gentleman who everyone knew and respected.
“I remember back in the 80s when he owned the Kings Head in Abbey Street. I remember asking him for a beer mat, and he gave me a box of them - that was just his nature.
"He was incredibly kind and polite and was renowned for his manners and generosity. He was a gentle person who was always concerned about other people, and he will be sorely missed.”