Hanley's Victoria on the Square reopens with new landlord
A POPULAR pub was due to reopen today – just 25 days after it shut suddenly on New Year's Eve.
Experienced landlord Marti Grice hopes to welcome back regulars after taking over The Victoria on the Square in Hanley.
The reopening comes after former landlady Bernadette Kerrigan was forced to close on the busiest day of the year when she racked up a £50,000 debt.
Marti – who already runs the Black Horse Inn in Chesterton, the Talbot Inn in Cheadle, and The Swan Inn in Biddulph – said he was confident he could make the pub a success.
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The 58-year-old, who was asked by Punch Taverns to take on the Victoria on the Square, added: "It is a great pub but it does need to be revamped and updated.
"I don't think we will do anything too different but we will be careful with our costs.
"Small things like taking out the coffee machine will save us thousands each year.
"I'm on a short-term lease so I'll see how it goes."
Marti has run pubs for more than 30 years after taking on The Bush in Smallthorne when he was 24.
He added: "I admire Bernadette as a business woman, I think that she did a lot of work to the place, but I think she overspent.
"I am a bit of a stickler for watching the pennies and with the economic climate we have to be more business minded. You are more likely to find me doing paperwork than pulling pints behind the bar."
Marti travels across the country singing songs from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and plans to launch an open mic and jazz night at the Vic.
He has employed former DJ Chris Williams and the same door staff.
Future plans include turning one of the bars into a tap room, which will sell real ales.
Former landlady Bernadette, aged 55, invested £250,000 in the pub after buying the venue in 2003 but struggled to make the books balance after seeing her rates soar.
Hairdresser Angela Greensmith, aged 50, from Cheadle, who has been close friends of Bernadette since childhood, said: "It is somewhere for our age group to go, especially to have a dance, but I do think they need to play modern music now and again."
Regular Sue Burrows, aged 58, from Abbey Hulton, said: "You don't like to see any building empty so I'm glad it's reopening. The brewery let Bernadette down badly."
The pub will reopen with a soul and Motown Night at 7.30pm today.