Regulars shocked by Stockton Brook pub's Italian job
AN AWARD-WINNING pub and restaurant has closed its doors and will be replaced with an Italian eatery.
Former regulars of The Hollybush in Stockton Brook admit they have been left surprised at the sudden closure of the venue.
But a refurbishment has now been carried out at the Stanley Road property, ahead of Marco Marco opening its doors on Friday.
It will be the first time the restaurant chain has ventured into Staffordshire, with its other three venues based across Cheshire.
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The company's latest restaurant will be able to host 114 diners and will also have a 50-seat bar and pub area. It will serve Italian cuisine, including tapas.
Former Hollybush customers say they will be keen to try out the new venue.
Jon Drew, aged 29, from Baddeley Green, who works as an electrician, said: "The Hollybush was a nice pub that was quite stylish and modern.
"I will try out the new restaurant as it sounds like the sort of place that I would go to. It will be a good addition to the area."
The Hollybush, a member of the Taste of Staffordshire scheme, started out as a traditional local pub and restaurant before being taken over by the Harvester chain in 1997.
It came under new management in 2005 and was dramatically overhauled as a modern pub and restaurant.
Kim Otter, aged 27, from Milton, held her wedding celebrations at the Hollybush this year.
The former Endon High School pupil said: "I can't believe the Hollybush has shut. The food and service for our wedding was great.
"It's a massive shame and I've been going there since I was little.
"I don't know how well the Italian will do because a lot of people used the Hollybush for the bar."
Andrea Berks, aged 27, who works as a hairdresser and lives in Baddeley Green, added: "The staff were always very friendly and it was a good place to go.
"But I am really looking forward to seeing what the new venue is like and will be going along to try it out."
Locals claim the Hollybush, which scooped the Pub of The Year award from Staffordshire Good Food Awards in 2009, suffered a dip in trade following the emerging popularity of the nearby Greenway Hall Golf Club. The club underwent a refurbishment 18 months ago.
Matt Shannon, food and drinks manager at the club, said: "We are very lucky that we have such a good catchment area here. We are now looking to expand."
Marco Marco also has restaurants in Northwich, Lymm and Marple Bridge.