Paperwork blow for Crafty Cockney's new pub venture
AN HISTORIC pub reopened by a darts legend had to close just one day later – after a postal strike delayed essential paperwork.
Five times world champion, Eric Bristow MBE, and his mate, Barry Birch, took over The Swan in St Edward Street, Leek, on Tuesday last week.
But the next day, the new landlords were forced to stop serving pints after it emerged they did not hold the necessary licence to sell alcohol.
After three hours of frantic phone calls, form filling and fax sending – and with punters impatient for their ale – the business partners were finally given the all-clear to step back behind the bar.
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Barry, aged 56, said: "Basically, the postal strike had caused all sorts of delays and then it became clear we didn't have a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).
"We were absolutely heaving and it was a real pain to have to turn punters away, but thankfully it was only a minor hiccup and within three hours we were back open again."
The pub was shut between 1pm and 4pm on Wednesday last week.
Barry – who has been in the pub industry most of his life – said: "Unfortunately the change over wasn't very smooth, the tills went down and the dishwasher was on the blink but in terms of the number of people we've had through the doors, we couldn't be happier."
Eric, aged 52, added: "The response has been phenomenal."
The pair – who met 25 years ago while dining at an Indian restaurant – have kept the main building as a traditional pub.
And far from the glamour of the darting world, they have chosen to play on the town's literary heritage by naming a small side room after JRR Tolkien – who is believed to have written much of Lord Of The Rings while downing cask ales in what was The Green Dragon.
What was formerly Ari's has been converted back into a sports bar and was opened for business last Friday. It has been kitted out with sporting memorabilia, including Eric's prestigious original Embassy darts trophy, which he first collected in 1980.
Barry – who used to be a doorman at Eric's former club, The Crafty Cockney – said: "We haven't quite finished putting up all the pictures but we are getting there."
The pair are planning an official launch party later in the year – possibly with a little help from Eric's former rivals Bobby George, John Lowe and Phil Taylor.
Barry added: "Now that we've got over the first few hurdles, we're looking forward to the future.
"It needs a little TLC to restore the pub to the jewel in Leek's crown."
Postal workers at Stoke-on-Trent's sorting office have been staging a series of strikes after colleagues were relocated causing huge delays to North Staffordshire's mail.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council confirmed: "The pub was shut as a result of it not having a DPS."