Published: 10:03, 14 November 2018
| Updated: 11:01, 14 November 2018
A village pub has been forced to close “due to a lack of local support”.
Three years ago, the Swan Inn in Wittersham was rebranded as the Oxney Gourmet Pie and Burger Bar in a bid to rejuvenate it.
Praise from its patrons brought the hostelry a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence in 2017, but boss Paul Withers-Green has now had to call time.
Mr Withers-Green, who also runs the Ferry Inn at Stone-in-Oxney, said: “There has been a lack of local support in Wittersham and we needed regular custom throughout the week to keep going.
"The business is too remote to rely on passing trade.”
He added Wittersham Sports Club had been granted an alcohol licence since the pub re-opening, which had led to a further downturn in trade.
Mr Withers-Green, who has had informal discussions with the parish council chairman, Jeremy Smith, over the future of the pub, added: “I’m in negotiations with the village to turn it back into a two bar drinking pub, but if people in Wittersham want to keep the place they will have to use it.”
The experimental rebranding saw the venue re-open as the Oxney Gourmet Pie and Burger Bar in 2015 after it had been successively leased out to a variety of tenant landlords.
A fresh lick of paint and revamped interior, together with a comprehensive menu of burgers, pies, Sunday roasts and specials, drew in the punters and praise for the quality of the food.
The pub also doubled up as a community hub, hosting meetings for the village book club and Royal British Legion branch.
Cllr Smith said that he would raise the issue of the pub with the parish council, but speaking on a personal level he said: “I very much regret that the pub is closed and I would like to see it open and serving drinks again.”
The pub has been put on the market and is listed with PubSales at £600,000 for the freehold.