Rebirth of the Angel Inn

(Archived 17 Mar 13)

By Tony Hutt on January 27th, 2013

59 Comments

  1. By Manny Mantel on January 28, 2013

    The Angel has been a PUBLIC house for around 400 years. Although it's true not everyone can succeed in the licence trade in the present climate, if that is the case then they should sell the business and make way for someone else to run it.
    Losing yet another pub from the village will be a disaster and the potential is there for the Angel to become an excellent venue which will attract visitors into the village and serve the needs of the community also. A valuable resource for the village which has, in the past, been run very successfully, it should be given another opportunity to flourish.

  2. By Jane Baldwin on January 29, 2013

    Many communities who have faced losing their pub have got together and taken it on as a Community venture run by and for the community. Has anyone considered this option?

  3. By Gerry Baxter on January 30, 2013

    To lose such an essential community venue would be a disaster for our village which is getting bigger not smaller! Perhaps if the owners asked the people of Debenham for possible cost effective ideas to improve their trade for food/drink/B&B and meetings & private venues a way could be found to once again establish the Angel as a thriving business.

  4. By Manny Mantel on January 30, 2013

    Good call Gerry and also Jane. I'm thinking about setting something up to do just this. We need to gather info and experience then get the Angel involved with any changes.

  5. By PeterJarratt on January 31, 2013

    Totally agree with the comments expressed.
    The Angel has so much potential with its space, gardens, parking and facilities generally.
    I have only lived in the Village for five years and have seen several tenants come and go but one couple who came from the Scilly Isles had the right formula, great front of house presence and fine reasonably priced food. The business, and in particular the
    restaurant flourished duing their stay, ending all too soon due to personal reasons.
    It just goes to show that the Angel could thrive again and give us a venue to be proud of.
    I know of several people of like mind who would wish to get involved.

  6. By Caroline Driver on February 1, 2013

    Hello - here are two websites that people may be interested in looking at - cover community pub schemes -

    www.plunkett.co.uk/

    www.pubisthehub.org.uk

    I too would be interested in pursuing further the possibility of having a community run pub - may be worth a meeting with representatives of pubs who have already gone down this route to ascertain how this was achieved.

  7. By mike Susie bronniman on February 1, 2013

    Having lived in Debenham for 13 enjoyable years We have already seen many changes with our local hostelies. The difficulties were probably caused in the main by the system of Punch and Enterprise Inns and their greed allowing for little profit. The Angel is now free of these ties . The present owners started well altering many of the logistical problems.,. Please do the honourable thing sell our pub and allow somebody who wants to keep regular opening hours work and make a Profit come in to run it . We all still live in Debenham!!!

  8. By Ian mantel on February 3, 2013

    "Having sent an email to the Angel on friday morning,Stacey called me to discuss the situation. I am very pleased to say that they are both working very hard on a plan that will allow the Angel to reopen as a public house, in one form or another, and to ensure that anyone taking on the business will have a realistic chance of success. Although Stacey was very forthcoming about the work in progress, I do not feel it appropriate to share the details at this time as negotiations are currently on going.

    What I can say is that they have engaged with Mid Suffolk DC who are 100% behind their effort and are providing technical and business resource to help and also they have other professional resources engaged to assist with the planning process.

    Stacey has said that it is their goal to ensure that they manage their transition out of the business whilst ensuring that the Angel is not simply sold to someone who has no interest and may simply close it down. Stacey also said that she will keep us updated as to the progress and is hopeful that this can be concluded very soon.

    I personally feel that this is very positive news and that we should now support them as much as possible. While there is no guarantee of success, I now feel that every effort is being made to move forward. I hope that Nick and Stacey are in a position to share more details of the plan very soon. Stacey also suggested that this website would be the one to watch for updates so hopefully there will be more good news from the Angel soon

  9. By Barry Woods - Website Editor on February 3, 2013

    I am pleased that The Angel Inn would like to use this website and I recommend that they post Comment(s) here if there is progress to report.

    This website is managed by myself on behalf of Debenham Parish Council. All comments made are strictly monitored and any comment which is anonymous, defamatory, obscene or breaches our standards of good taste and decency will NOT be approved.

  10. By Mica Pearson on February 7, 2013

    I have read with interest your comments and have made a decision, as a chef that has worked in some of London's best restaurants and coupled with a local businessman I would very much be interested in buying the Angel and would love to talk to the current owners. My name is Mica Pearson and my number is 07936 577701

  11. By Manny Mantel on February 7, 2013

    WOW! Mica, go for it......I'm sure you'll get a lot of support

  12. By Mica Pearson on February 7, 2013

    There are of course a number of factors I need to know first though but it's an idea!!

  13. By Amanda Bradshaw on February 7, 2013

    Absolutely!

  14. By PeterJarratt on February 7, 2013

    Where are Nick and Stacey?. Are they aware of this?. What is their reaction?.

  15. By Gerry Baxter on February 7, 2013

    A positive start and I'm sure everyone are keeping their fingers crossed for a once great pub and restaurant to regain it's position

  16. By Manny Mantel on February 7, 2013

    I believe they have been away this week but Mica, you can contact them initially via their website :

    http://www.theangeldebenham.co.uk/The_Angel_Debenham/Welcome.html

    I'm sure you'll have a lot to discuss.

  17. By Tony Hutt on February 11, 2013

    There are some community pubs around, e.g. Shottisham (see http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/shottisham_pub_saved_from_closure_enjoying_success_1_1754387). Some community centres have a bar, of course, including Debenham, but that's not quite the same. There was talk of Charsfield pub being run as a community venture I believe but it's now reopened as a commercial venture. Nick is definitely around - I saw him in the Coop last week. Anyway it's encouraging that they have a plan to enable its opening, so let's hope that succeeds.

  18. By PeterJarratt on February 11, 2013

    I believe that the 'Turks Head' at Hasketon is another example of a community pub. Probably the closest to Debenham. They nearly always advertise in the East Anglian. We had a really good lunch there about a year ago.

  19. By Stacey at The Angel Inn on February 12, 2013

    We are pleased to announce that we have found a way with the help of MSDC to reopen The Angel as a public house. We hope to reopen within the next couple of months, and will of course keep everyone updated of progress.

    We will not be personally running the pub, it will be run by a new landlord or landlady who will rent the space. We do have someone lined up with proven local and industry experience who would like to take it on.

    In order to make the business viable, and to give our tenant the best possible chance of success we have opted for a plan that will reduce the overheads and outgoings. To do this we will be making the front of house space slightly smaller and more efficient.

    We will be applying for planning permission to convert the unused space into a cottage for us to live in once the pub is up and running. We are moving out of our home to make way for the new tenant.

    This plan continues to provide Nick and I with a home, starts to provide an income and ensures the longevity and viability of a pub business at the angel.

    We are all clearly passionate about keeping The Angel open as a pub, so it is now really important that everyone supports the new landlord and lady to ensure it's success.

  20. By Amanda Frost on February 12, 2013

    What good news - sounds like a WIN WIN situation all round.

  21. By PeterJarratt on February 12, 2013

    Thank you Stacey for posting some positive news.
    We, that's Julia, myself and our group of friends will obviously give the new tenants our support.
    We will eagerly await detail of the plans, in particular, how the 'slightly smaller front of house' is to be achieved.

  22. By Anton Williams on February 12, 2013

    fab news to many pubs closing.........if youre new landlors need a fab chef to cook for them dont hesitate to contact me please,love to help them get pub going again

  23. By Pip Alden on February 13, 2013

    Further to Stacey?s comment above, I feel compelled to respond in an effort to avoid part of our superb pub being lost forever.

    While I am hugely glad that an attempt is being made to re-open the pub, I can see a few potential issues which I believe should be addressed before going further:


    Stacey?s comment: ?In order to make the business viable? ? it has yet to be proved that the business is not viable to run as a free house. I am aware that former landlords have been hindered in their attempts to make a decent profit by those that have governed their tenancy/management contract, but the fact that the folk of Debenham and surrounding areas have supported the pub in previous incarnations suggests that it is possible. There are several other establishments in the area (Thorndon Black Horse, Earl Soham Victoria, Beaconsfield Arms and to a degree, The Woolpack) that offer decent, consistent, pub-style meals at an affordable price. The success that these pubs enjoy (and indeed many others in the area) is a direct result of the effort that their respective landlords put into the businesses ? you cannot expect to make a decent living running a pub if you rely chiefly on wet sales and only offer sporadic food service with a menu to which few customers are attracted. I am absolutely convinced that with an experienced team behind it, The Angel could quite easily thrive as it stands.

    ?To give our tenant the best possible chance of success we ~ will be making the front of house slightly smaller and more efficient.? Referring to my comment above, it is likely to be mainly the food trade that attracts customers to the pub. This can only be achieved by getting as many bums on seats as possible and any landlord who is being brought in to increase trade is immediately hampered by losing several tables ? what is the point of having a kitchen & bar that are capable of serving the pub as it stands, only to restrict their output and therefore turnover? Efficiency comes from employing as few staff as necessary to operate the pub at its maximum capacity, not to get a dozen or so customers in the pub with no space for any more and then have the staff standing around waiting for someone else to serve!

    ?We will be applying for planning permission to convert the unused space into a cottage to live in?? etc. While I am no expert on planning matters, I can?t help thinking that the idea of convincing the planning authorities that converting part of the ground floor of a potentially thriving 16th Century Grade 2 Listed pub into a cottage is fantasy. Why is it necessary to make the space ?unused??

    ?This plan continues to provide Nick & I with a home?? etc. Herein lies the whole nub of the plan, I fear. If Nick & Stacey want a home, it would surely be more cost effective to let the pub wholesale to someone who wants to make a go of it and then rent or buy a cottage somewhere else and enjoy the pub?s rental income? Why ruin the existing building and go through all the hassle of preparing and submitting drawings and a planning application, applying for listed building consent and then employing a builder to make the alterations?

    I?m sure that Nick & Stacey have considered very carefully all the above thoughts in their quest to keep The Angel open, but it is my firm opinion that just because they have not been successful in making the pub work as it stands, it does not preclude the possibility that others most certainly could.

    Pip Alden

  24. By Amanda Bradshaw on February 13, 2013

    I fully agree with Pip Alden's comment here.

  25. By Barry Woods - Website Editor on February 13, 2013

    As a result of emails received from submitters, I have determined that the 'Your Email' field is NOT being sent. Hence, I have no way of contacting the submitter if there is any problem with approving comment.

    As a temporary measure at least, can submitters please include contact details (email and/or telephone only) WITHIN the text of the comment.

    I am aware of one comment that is awaiting approval but cannot progress without contact details.

    My apologies for this inconvenience. I am working with the system supplier to identify the problem.

  26. By Amanda Bradshaw on February 13, 2013

    It would be really helpful to have more details from Stacey re how much smaller the front of house will be. We already have a small pub in the village. If the plan is to convert 'unused space' into a cottage, I imagine the pub will be more than 'slightly smaller' and this will impact on its appeal and use, particularly re food. I would also be interested to know whether the plans mean the pub retains use of the garden.

    I feel strongly that the pub is more viable as a business in it's current form and agree with Pip that its viability will be compromised by the proposed plan, rather than assisted. I think that Nick and Stacey have had many comments which explain why their business failed (albeit several communicated in a very hurtful way) and, as Pip points out, there are examples locally which prove that a decent sized pub can be run successfully in this area if it provides good affordable meals every day and offers high quality customer service.

    It may appear initially as a win-win (ref. Amanda Frost's comment) but, if the plans don't create conditions for a successful business it will very quickly become a lose-lose situation.

  27. By Richard Matthews on February 13, 2013

    Having stayed at the Angel Inn previously (before the present landlords) when they offered accommodation we found the Public House a warm and inviting hostelry. We had a lovely room and enjoyed breakfast and dinner as well as stimulating company offered by the bar's regulars and staff. If only the clock could be turned back to those days and a suitable benefactor found. We would love to return. We are sure with the right management and marketing these premises can be made to be profitable and successful.

  28. By Manny Mantel on February 13, 2013

    I agree with Pips comments by and large and I think it's good that they have been made. I was wondering how a smaller pub would be more viable than a larger, if more efficient one, and also I'm curious as to how the building will be altered.

    Perhaps Nick and Stacey will be able to share their plans more fully, before the planning applications are submitted.

    ianmantel@gmail.com

  29. By Andria Runcieman on February 13, 2013

    We found The Angel last winter, with a sigh of 'at last, a decent pub...' the atmosphere and renovation so clearly reflecting the character of such a beautiful village.
    We found Nick and Stacy to be really welcoming, but really felt that they missed the mark with their food and only dined there once. Surely it would be possible to meet the needs of many within the community by focussing on a different type of custom....a good pub is difficult to beat, but to open all day and offer a service that adapts with the time of day, would surely meet the needs of many more in the community? Think 'Frank's Bar' , Bedford Street, Norwich....which seems to move seamlessly from cafe to lunch venue to pub/ bistro with a book group and film afternoon on Sundays and constant queue of eager customers.....surely Debenham can support a flexible space for the Community. I do hope they will now see success with new landlords. We shall all look forward to the opening.

  30. By Tansy Cooper on February 13, 2013

    I am very pleased that Stacey and Nick are trying to give the pub back to the village and congratulate them on this. However, I am also very concerned about what this 'actually' means? I too really believe the pub 'as it is' can be more than viable with the right people in. We already have a lovely, well run 'small' pub in the village but need a larger premises which caters for groups and events and yes, some decent food!! I can?t count the number of times groups of us have had to go out of the village because the Woolly is simply too small to cater for us. We could rarely go to the Angle because so many people in the village had boycotted it for one reason or another. There are plenty of good pubs and restaurants outside of our village in the most bizarre of places doing really well but a fab pub, lovely good size family garden, in the heart of a thriving village?? Come on...is it really that unlikely? We do indeed need more information.

  31. By Tansy Cooper on February 13, 2013

    Who?s for begging Pat out of retirement then??? Now there's a women who could make it work!!

  32. By Barry Woods - Website Editor on February 14, 2013

    I must remind you all that critical comments levelled against named individuals adds no value to any constructive debate and willl not be published on this topic. My decision is final.

  33. By Alan Cushion on February 16, 2013

    I think Pip has accurately reflected the concerns of many in his post. I have great difficulty in seeing how any ?slight? reduction in the front of house will have any appreciable impact on the overheads or efficiency. A little less heating and lighting, maybe less council tax but nothing significant. Any more than a slight reduction, especially to the main bar area, would certainly diminish the Angel?s attractiveness, make it even less likely to turn a profit and just result in an inevitable decline and death. Presumably by which time it would be very difficult to return the pub to its present layout.
    It is a shame that Nick and Stacey did not continue to trade while exploring what could be done to turn around the business. If they had let the village know of the situation, there could well have been an increase in customer numbers (assuming regular opening and consistent food availability) and at the very least it would have been easier to sell the pub if it was a going concern.
    Of course, all our comments are based on speculation as to the exact nature of the conversion so I would urge Nick and Stacey to provide more detail and possibly avoid wasting more money and time drawing up plans that will be met with a barrage of objections.

    Alan Cushion
    e-mail alanandy@supanet.com

  34. By Amanda Bradshaw on February 16, 2013

    As I understand it, the plans have already been drawn up and presumably Nick and Stacey are now in the process of submitting them for approval. It would be great if they shared those plans with us and, if they don't, I think we can assume they know they won't be favourably received. As far as I can see, the only course of action open to us is to object to planning permission. How do we go about this in the most effective way?

    [amandabradshaw@btinternet.com

  35. By Mica Pearson on February 16, 2013

    You should write to your local planning department and bare in mind the following are the grounds on which planning permission is most likely to be refused (although this list is not intended to be definitive) :

    ? Adverse effect on the residential amenity of neighbours, by reason of (among other factors) noise*, disturbance*, overlooking, loss of privacy, overshadowing, etc. [*but note that this does not include noise or disturbance arising from the actual execution of the works, which will not be taken into account]
    ? Unacceptably high density / overdevelopment of the site, especially if it involves loss of garden land or the open aspect of the neighbourhood (so-called ?garden grabbing?)
    ? Visual impact of the development
    ? Effect of the development on the character of the neighbourhood
    ? Design (including bulk and massing, detailing and materials, if these form part of the application)
    ? The proposed development is over-bearing, out-of-scale or out of character in terms of its appearance compared with existing development in the vicinity
    ? The loss of existing views from neighbouring properties would adversely affect the residential amenity of neighbouring owners
    ? [If in a Conservation Area, adverse effect of the development on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area]
    ? [If near a Listed Building, adverse effect of the development on the setting of the Listed Building.]
    ? The development would adversely affect highway safety or the convenience of road users [but only if there is technical evidence to back up such a claim].

  36. By Nick & Stacey Paine on February 16, 2013

    We have consciously not been replying to every post made because we do not wish to enter into an unprofessional brawl. We have also been somewhat afraid to, following what can only be described as malicious bullying following our decision to close the pub.

    We both cared deeply about the work we did at the Angel, and despite the reams of positive testimony we received have been hurt by both the direct and indirect insults that have been levied at us. This emotional turmoil makes it very difficult to progress with running our business. This will there fore be the last time we will post regarding our plans. We have therefore made an effort to cover as many points as possible.

    We are fortunate to have a democratic planning process, which we will be following. Everyone will have the opportunity to make his or her feelings known at this point.

    Everyone that we have spoken to has a different suggestion ranging from ? you should have been a fine dining restaurant, you should have done ?Children eat free?, you should have opened until 2am, you should have served Stella, you should have had AC DC tribute bands, you should have had a soft floored children?s play area etc. etc. I hope that people reading this can see that one cannot be all things to all men.

    To read what has been written on this website (and others), as a stranger who did not come to our pub you would assume we purchased a thriving, vibrant, highly successful business and ran it into the ground. The comments suggest that we served sub-standard food, opened only when we felt like it, put in no effort, provided poor customer service, and did no marketing. We all know that this is not true, and I do have testimony and evidence to support this.

    We have emails from customers wanting to know where Nick will be cooking next; they were so impressed with their food. Food accounted for 30% of our business.

    We changed our opening hours only twice (it is unreasonable to expect a business to not evolve based on their trading information) ? but we did consistently open when we said we were going to.

    It is true that there were odd occasions when we were not able to do food service. Nick was the only person in the kitchen because we could not afford to pay for extra staff. He worked through many illnesses, but on two occasions he was unable to work. This is sadly part of providing locally sourced home made high quality reasonably priced food ? that it is not being microwaved or deep-fried by someone with no skill. Our food showcased local produce and provided money to the local economy. Our pricing was lower than that of the Beaconsfield Arms, Dennington Queens Head and Earl Soham Victoria.

    No effort and poor customer service? ? Nick and I have worked for free 50-70 hours every week since we opened. We have organised village events (do you remember Jubilee? October Fest etc.?), provided free buffets, live music and theatre events. We catered for last minute requests, decorated birthday tables, and cooked special meals for people. I personally have worked through two miscarriages ? one of which was quite late term and lasted for 7 weeks. Nick taught himself to be a commercial chef in order to keep our commitment to launch food service on the date we specified. This is not the etiquette of lazy people who do not care about their customers.

    No marketing? I have a 2.1 Ba Hons Marketing degree, and that was what my career was before leaving London. I do have a record of the marketing we conducted ? and it?s place as part of a strategy. Hasketon Turk?s Head may need to rethink there?s if regular advertising in the EADT has only compelled you to visit once for lunch in the last year.

    We bought a building that had been host to repeated failed businesses ? before our purchase it had failed as an exclusively drinking pub, a pub that sold basket meals for ?2.99, an AA stared fine dining establishment, and with the couple from the Scilly isles ? who despite having an ethereal status ? did not make a success of it and left after 9 months ? I will not make suppositions about why this was. I?m not sure how many guises, and how many bankrupt people it will take before there is enough evidence to convince the village that the building as it is currently used is not viable.

    However, we are happy with a local proven licensee as our tenant to give it another go. We are not obliged to do this and could already have exercised our permitted development rights, or chosen to board it up and continued to live in the flat as our home. It is worth bearing in mind that these are both still options for us.

    The village were clearly (as may I add were we) upset at the prospect of losing one of their village pubs. It must be said at this point that Debenham does have a high proportion of licensed premises per capita ? Eye, Wickham Market, and Mendlesham all have significantly less. Everyone seems to be forgetting about the Leisure Centre bar and soon to be reopening Cherry Tree.

    Other local pubs are being quoted as ?successful? without any information to support this. Being open does not mean they are doing well. If you were to speak to professionals in the industry they would share with you the dilemma faced by many publicans. Many have done the same job for many years and are unable/reluctant to change professions, and despite making no money do receive a roof over their head and food on their table. The landlord of the Beaconsfield arms ? and again this is only information I have received from a mutual business contact ? has had to rent the pub to a new couple because he was unable to make it work.

    Having all of the information to hand, and the advice of professionals we have made a plan to provide a village pub once again. As a Debenham girl I can assure you I want nothing more than to insure the safety of the Angel as a village pub, and as people with years of experience running different businesses we can be trusted to do so. We increased the turnover of this particular business by 50% - it did not fail because it was not popular (I have evidence of it?s popularity) ? it failed because of the ungainly costs of running a public house of this size. They are dinosaurs that originate from very different socio/economic times. This is the same the country over. Eight pubs are closing everyday. For example, 2 of the 5 in Framlingham have just closed and they had the advantage of being in a larger vibrant affluent market town.

    Without access to the full information there seems to be concern that the reduction in front of house space will prevent the pub being a successful food destination. A food destination is not a village pub, I think that everyone should be careful what they wish for ? what is being described is The Dennington Queen ? a venue that does not welcome the whole village community and trades exclusively on food. I believe that something similar to this is planned for The Cherry Tree.

    Much effort went into the subtleties of our business plan to ensure that an environment and atmosphere was created that welcomed the people of Debenham, young/old, rich/poor, male/female, families, babies, dogs, and the traditional drinkers of Debenham, and we did a very good job of achieving this.

    There have been unsubstantiated claims of mass boycotting. Not all the decisions we made were popular with everyone, but they were made to protect an environment that appealed to the majority. The boycotting that we were aware of was always related to an unpopular barring. To give readers an example ? a mass fight on our first Christmas Eve, a customer urinating on our bar the night before our wedding (Nick was working ? note - not the work ethic of ?No Effort?!), a customer ?head-butting? Nick in the face having been asked to leave after threatening our staff. I can only apologise that trying to create a safe and welcoming environment for the majority is not to everyone?s agreement.

    If the focus was to be on food, which it would have to be if the building stays in the same format, the spend per head of each person coming through the door that is required to run a slick commercial kitchen would exclude large sectors of the local community from using it as a community space. Tables of 20-year-old young men and women, nursing a pint of Cider for an hour would not be welcome. Who we fondly call ?The Laughing Lager boys? who have religiously toured the village pubs of Debenham for the last 25 years would feel uncomfortable rapturously enjoying themselves next to a table of 4 enjoying scallops and Chablis. Our canine friends would no longer be allowed in. The ?Sunday Set? who enjoyed the large table every Sunday lunch time would have to move venue because they would be taking valuable (probably pre-booked) food service space.

    Sadly it is not appropriate for me to talk about precise figures ? it would be unfair on the ingoing tenant. But to give you an idea ? to break even in it?s current set-up there would need to be 60 people every day of the year buying a two course meal and two drinks. If we were still open now we would be losing ?800 per week, and not being paid or paying the rent on top of this ? this would have been the same from January through till April. This is why we closed at the end of December ? it meant we were able to pay our staff and all local suppliers ? the honourable thing to do. There was no point letting the village know of our situation because the shortfall is too large to be able to be remedied by local support alone ? in it?s current format an extra ?2k turnover is required per week.

    The new layout returns the pub to how it was before it was expanded with its flat roof extension. It worked well in that format for 400 years. We will be reinstating the original cellar, moving the bar and loo?s. This will have no impact on existing customer numbers, still provide scope for growth but will reduce the fixed costs. I promise it will still be significantly larger than The Woolpack, and still be able to cater for large parties.

    Having considered all the options with all the information available to us we can assure everyone this is the most viable option. We cannot consult members of the general public regarding the detail of every decision we are making, although general feedback about whether a pub is still needed in this building has been valuable and acted upon.

    It is touching that people seem to be concerned about the money we are or are not spending, but we are capable to monitoring this and making educated decisions ourselves.

    Leaving it as it is is not an option we will be pursuing. There are three routes available to us - make it smaller and have it run by an experienced local licensee, open it as retail/caf?or close it altogether.

    As a privately owned building/business we do have the right to make our own decision within the realms of planning law. It is a building with an A4 drinking establishment usage ? not a public building. It is not publically funded; there fore there is not the freedom for the public to decide upon its exact reincarnation.

    We ask for the sake of progress in getting the pub reopened that people take this on board and offer their support instead of pursuing their ideal outcome which is not based on factual information or being offered as a possibility.

    We would like to get the pub reopened as soon as possible; I hope that the village feels the same.

  37. By Debenham Parish Council on February 16, 2013

    There have been several recent comments about the future plans for The Angel public house. The parish council will be notified of any plans submitted by the owners of The Angel to Mid Suffolk District Council.

    Whatever these plans relate to, the parish council will have them as an agenda item at the next available parish council meeting. Any parishioner wishing to hear the discussions about the plans is welcome to attend the meeting. Attendees at the meeting are invited to speak at certain specified times so that their views can be heard.

    Until such time that plans are submitted to MSDC, the parish council is not in a position to make comment on the matter.


  38. By Mica Pearson on February 17, 2013

    To coin a phrase "if you build it they will come" from the great film field of dreams...

    You see, the problem is this.. Too many people go into this business with the idea that they can do a dinner party or arrange a one off event and thus are under the misconception that they can run a pub or a restaurant and that's just not the case!!

    During my 20+ years as a top level chef I've seen many many business's come and go, most of the blame should be left at the feet of the agents that call them so called 'lifestyle' business's and people not understanding that a pub or a restaurant is 'your life' it's like an extension of your sitting room 'where everybody knows your name'.

    Unless you look at things this way it will never work it's a business that takes passion, flair, creativity & personality, you should be on first name terms with everyone & everyone should know you, people come to you with their secrets, their problems and you should listen & advise where appropriate BUT never discuss these people's business with anyone.

    There are many factors and skills to running a successful restaurant/bar and many ways to get it wrong...

    As an experienced & professional in this business and after 20+ years of blood, sweat & tears as well as loving my business and thinking about it 24/7, I only now feel ready to make a go of it and get my own place.

    Coming back to my original phrase 'if you build it they will come' I am saying that the reason these business's fail isn't location BUT simply people getting into a business they simply do not have the tools to do the job with, and without them how can you 'build it'

  39. By Bob Brown on February 18, 2013

    Fair play to Nick and Stacey Paine in their tremendous efforts to make the Angel a going concern. Unfortunately the greed of Breweries in charging high rents and supermarkets selling alcohol as a loss maker continue to devastate the `pub` culture to the detriment of the local community. I do tend to agree that, in the current climate, the necessity to provide good food to a large clientele, particularly weekend lunchtimes, is the only way to keep the wolf from the door; The Black Horse at Thorndon, The Four Horse Shoes at Thornham spring to mind. My heart goes out to those that try their hardest as opposed to their spectator critics; it's always easy to find fault as none of us are perfect but hosts do need to be aware of ways to improve their service. Suggestions as opposed to carping criticism, is useful I suppose. Hopefully common sense, goodwill and professional knowledge will find an outcome that can satisfy the people of Debenham. Good luck to those involved.

  40. By Sam Thurlow on February 19, 2013

    A large amount of people in the village have lived here for years, some since birth, and have seen The Angel go from great, to bad, to good and to worse yet still can't have their say.
    I for one know that the previous tenants didn't 'fail' at running the pub, but were doing quite well, so the brewery thought they would make more money off it by bumping up the rent - which forced the tenants to leave as they couldn't afford it.
    The Angel is in the best possible place in a beautiful village in the heart of Suffolk - it's 1 of 2 places (the other being the co-op) that has it's own car park (which has been locked) - it is also 1 of very few places that has a wonderful garden. On top of all that, it is also a nice looking establishment - blending in well with the surrounding area.
    I just worry, that if the plan to make the pub smaller (which won't help the problem) and turning half of it into a house will lose the pub the carpark, the garden and the looks. It's not my place to say what should be done but i think having a community meeting, allowing the local community to freely talk about the future of the pub, would reassure a number of people who want to save it.

  41. By Alan Cushion on February 20, 2013

    These last postings illustrate the difference you can get with viewpoints from opposite sides of a situation. Unfortunately, in the service industry, it is the customer?s perception that dictates whether the business is a success. I see no point in discussing the post in detail suffice to say that if only all this had come out while the pub was still open, with just a few tweaks just maybe things could have worked out better.

    That didn?t happen and the situation we now find ourselves in, is that the pub is shut, positions are becoming entrenched and there is a thinly veiled threat that, unless the proposals are agreed to, the pub will stay shut.

    Personally I am not of a mind to support the plans unless it can be clearly demonstrated that:-
    1) The reduced overheads will be sufficient to compensate for the current financial shortfall, provide enough to cover the rent and provide the new tenant with a living. All this with presumably less seating/drinking area (reduced economies of scale).
    2) The ambiance of the building will not be compromised.
    3) There are no parties offering to purchase the pub as is. Rumour indicates at least 2 independent approaches have been made. Obviously any offer needs to be realistically pitched but Nick and Stacey?s post would seem to indicate they are not even prepared to open negotiations on this front.
    To meet all 3 criteria seems an impossibly tall order and nobody in any of the posts or in talk around the village would appear likely to support the proposals. A common fear being that, if the changes are made and the new tenant is still not successful, then it really will be the end of the Angel and with little chance of going back. Of course, it would help if the plans were more clearly stated and this done as soon as possible, before submission to the Council rather than after.

    Assuming that the objections prevail then it is difficult to see a way out of this impasse and avoid a long drawn out pub closure to the detriment of everybody. However open dialogue between the two sides would be a good starting point. Would Stacey and Nick be prepared to meet with some members of the community in a non- adversarial setting to at least clear the air and possibly seek some common ground? Any volunteers?

  42. By Barry Woods - Debenham website editor on February 21, 2013

    There is a problem (see above) whereby submitter's email address is not being sent. Hence, if I have a problem 'approving' a comment, I cannot communicate with the submitter.

    Where a comment adds some value but breaches some rules of personal criticsm or even threats, I have therefore taken the slightly unusual step of 'approving' the comment with minor editorial redactions.

    If anyone has a problem with this approach, please contact me direct - email to debenham@occold.com

    Having said all that, I think enough has been said about 'where we've been' and I politely suggest that future comments should be more about 'where we're going'!

  43. By PeterJarratt on February 21, 2013

    Yes, I agree with Alan and would be pleased to be a 'volunteer' if a meeting such as he proposes comes about.
    I believe that when someone owns Historic premises such as the Angel they also take on custodianship of it on behalf of the local community. Surely that communiity might expect some input as to its future?.

  44. By Manny Mantel on February 24, 2013

    I agree wholeheartedly with Alan and I've already offered to chair any meeting in a neutral situation and help bring knowledge and skilled resource together to help resolve the situation. That offer was refused.
    I agree also that enough has been said about 'where we've been' but its the 'where we're going' that's causing us concern and if Nick and Stacey won't tell us, then we will naturally fear the worst and regard every soundbite with suspicion.

  45. By Mica Pearson on February 24, 2013

    If the village of Debenham somehow had the rescourses to buy or at least lease the premises then I would be more than happy to act as consultant 'free of charge' and help set up the changes necessary to make The Angel a truly thriving pub again!!

  46. By Tony Hutt on February 24, 2013

    See the East Anglian Daily Times article published today at http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/debenham_owners_put_forward_rescue_plan_for_closed_angel_pub_1_1951535

  47. By Amanda Bradshaw on February 24, 2013

    I think that we should organise a get together to decide how best to present a response at the forthcoming Parish Council meeting. What kind of format is the meeting likely to follow (I've no experience of the Parish Council)? Should we elect a spokesperson and decide to the key points to communicate?

  48. By Manny Mantel on February 25, 2013

    Mrs Paine, 31, said: ?I do generally believe that the pub will be kept open but it needs to be in a way that is sustainable."

    But if they know a way to make it sustainable, why didn't they do it in the first place, or at least when they knew their business was in trouble? This really doesn't add up at all.

    I know a way to make it a viable, sustainable business, but I can't share it here.

  49. By Tansy Cooper on February 28, 2013

    Having just read the comments from Stacey re their efforts and especially 'working through two miscarriages', I just want to say how sorry I was to hear this and my heart does go out to you both. This could not have been easy for you and I'm sure all this can?t be helping. Nobody wants this.
    I just want to reiterate that this is for the majority a genuine and very important debate about the future of an important and historic local resource and is in no way intended as a personal attack on yourselves or what may or may not be the reasons for its closure. We need to put all this behind us now and work all together as a community, to get this resolved. This needs to be done through sensible dialogue, not a battle.

  50. By Clivers on February 28, 2013

    I see that the current owners have made a statement about previous landlords not being able to make a profit. The main reason for this was the previous pub company that owned the freehold charging excessive prices for supplies and high rents. Being a freeholder you should have far lower overheads unless you have mortgaged/borrowed money up to the hilt. To run a successful pub takes many years of experience learnt through various positions and roles. Too many people take on a pub thinking it is a leisure lifestyle, it is not and is harder through the hours involved etc than many other jobs. It really annoys me when people buy pubs, think they can suddenly make the place popular and profitable. It can take several years before you break even or make any profit, seems to me this couples business plan must have been way out of kilt..such a shame. To make money with food you need plenty of tables to turnover, making the place even smaller is a recipe to disaster...think how much money will need to be spent on major building alterations that will need to take place. Totally crazy cut your losses and attempt to sell...why throw money away? Crazy....

  51. By Manny Mantel on March 1, 2013

    Well said Clivers. I think that view is widely held and I think many of us cannot quite understand this.

  52. By Mica Pearson on March 1, 2013

    The simple answer to your question Chivers is this, there has been an influx of property developers who buy pubs and purposely make them lose money, because some pubs have a protection order on there use, ie. old pubs must stay pubs, the only way this can be changed is by showing that they can't work! Then you can apply for change of usage and build.

    You see the sad fact is that pubs are and remain a cheap freehold option.

  53. By Pip Alden on March 1, 2013

    As mentioned in the other post, several people have confirmed an interest in meeting up in the Leisure Centre bar on Sunday 3rd March to have a pint and an informal chat about the future of The Angel if anyone would like to come. We thought around 3:00pm might be good to avoid conflicting with roasts?

    Just to reinforce that I certainly have no intention of putting any dampers on the new incumbent's efforts to revive the pub; it's more a discussion on the longer-term prospects and the hopeful avoidance of any permanent re-structuring of the building.

    <Editor redacted>

    Referring to Tansy's comment below, perhaps it would be worth inviting the EADT along to offer them a more balanced view of affairs?

  54. By Barry Woods - Debenham website editor on March 1, 2013

    Recent comments are becoming more and more personal and, in spite of my plea to concentrate on positive comments about 'where we are going', are basically re-iterating what has already been said.

    I cannot remove the Comment facility without losing all the comments - its a system limitation which I am trying to workaround.

    As a temporary measure therefore, I WILL NOT PUBLISH ANY FURTHER COMMENTS ON THIS TOPIC - apart from any which I regard as positive, non-personal, non-inlammatory and non-threatening.

    I dont wish to take this step as I believe the whole essence of a free speech website is to allow open and honest comment. Technical limitations preclude me from taking the steps I would like to - but that is out of my control - albeit I am trying to work on a solution

    I must add that I do not live in Debenham and have no personal knowledge of any of the people involved in this discussion. But please feel free to comment on my decision.

  55. By Manny Mantel on March 2, 2013

    Sorry Barry, I understand where you are, and personal comments about anyone should not be allowed on a website, but with the greatest respect, there is not a great deal that is positive about this situation at the moment so unless we just give up what has been a valuable dialog I cant see this as a way forward.

    I think it's legitimate to express an opinion about the operation of a local business and unfortunately that often means comment on the individuals who run that business. I'm sure everyone would join in to congratulate them had it been a roaring success but you can't make an omelette without cracking a few eggs.

    I'm not sure this will get published here of course :-)

  56. By Barry Woods - Debenham website editor on March 4, 2013

    This topic has now been running for 5 weeks and attracted considerable comment. However, many of the those now being received are just re-iterating what has already been said. And some cannot be approved since they infringe, in my opinion, the website site standards for allowing public comment.

    I don?t believe any purpose is being served by allowing a topic to keep running ad infinitum. Hence, I have placed a time limit on further comment.

    THE CLOSING DATE FOR COMMENTS IS MIDNIGHT ON SUNDAY, 17 MARCH 13.

    After that date, the Comment facility will be removed. However, because of a quirk in the way the system works, all the comments will disappear!! However, I have developed a technical workaround that preserves these. Hence the topic will be archived in the existing website section on Progress on Local Issues ? with a link to a copy of it as it stood when archived.

    As a note for the future, any new topics will have a published closing date.

  57. By PeterJarratt on March 5, 2013

    May I be permitted one final comment. Would everyone who feels that the Angel should not be divided up to make a Dwelling and a smaller Public House please write or Email their comments / objections to both Parish and District councils. Until the promised plans have arrived to be considered this is the only means by which we can demonstrate strength of opinion. The councillors are:-
    Mrs Dina Bedwell, Email debenham.pc@btinternet.com for the Parish and Kathie.guthrie@midsuffolk.gov.uk for the MSDC.

  58. By Alan Cushion on March 14, 2013

    According to notices that have gone up in the window of the Angel, it will be re-opening in early April with some temporary partitioning to reduce the bar size.
    There will be an open meeting at the Debenham Leisure Centre at 3.00pm Sunday 17th March to allow people to air their views on this and the long term probable restructuring of the pub.

  59. By Tony Hutt on March 15, 2013

    Notices displayed in the window of The Angel Inn
    (copy-and-paste into your browser)

    http://debenham.onesuffolk.net/assets/topics/angel1.jpg

    http://debenham.onesuffolk.net/assets/topics/angel2.jpg