Tenants “broken-hearted” as Eden pub closes

Date: Friday 21st July 2017

A COUPLE say they are “broken-hearted” after being forced to give up on their dream of running a Lake District pub due to the cost of their tenancy agreement with pub owners Marston’s brewery.

The Herdwick Inn, Penruddock, which had been run by chef Shaun Cowperthwaite, aged 39, and his partner Jo Greggain, aged 43, since 2015, has closed, along with the shop the couple opened within the pub in October.

Regulars have been paying tribute to the couple on social media this week and say their departure will be a sad loss to the village.

Mr. Cowperthwaite, who is originally from Hexham, and Ms. Greggain, from Workington, said they had hoped for additional support from the brewery, Marston’s, but this had not been forthcoming.

The couple — who had signed a five-year lease for the pub — were clearing the contents, fixtures and fittings of the 18th Century building, 60-cover restaurant and five-bedroomed B&B at a sale at the premises on Saturday.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Jo said that because they were tied to Marston’s brewery they were being charged £150 per barrel, while a pub down the road was paying only £80 to £90 for exactly the same beer.

An agreement was reached to introduce seasonal rental rates, but because the lease on the pub had amounted to £1,038 per week, plus overheads, from April, the couple were simply not making enough to cover their costs, said Jo, despite the community having “taken them in with open arms”.

“We are broken-hearted. We have lost everything. We have no jobs, no money, no home,” she added.

In a post on their Facebook page this week, the couple claimed that Marston’s failed to properly deal with a leaking roof and inefficient heating system which was costing £450 a fortnight to run and charging way more in beer and rent than the pub was taking for half of the year.

They added that when they said they were closing, Marston’s response was to tell them they would not be getting their £7,500 deposit back.

However, they paid tribute to the loyal customers who have supported them.

“Words really can’t say how flattered and overwhelmed we are,” they said. “We’re so sorry to let you all down and we will never forget the true spirit of the genuine locals, tourists and friends. We will miss you so much.”

Shaun added that he had dreamed of running a pub in his 25 years as a chef, but the music nights, family days, promotions and even introduction of a village shop had not been enough to make the pub a success.

Regular David Stables said Shaun and Jo had been the ideal people to make a success of the pub and wished them well.

County councillor for the area Neil Hughes added: “I’m sure it will be a disappointment for the villagers who benefit from having facilities such as this, not only for their own use but also to encourage holiday visitors to make use of local B&Bs.”

A spokesman for Marston’s said: “We are sorry that the pub is currently closed and that Jo and Shaun were unable to make a successful business out of the Herdwick Inn.

“There have been a number of complications in this situation which include limited company liability and a business rates charge.

“Shaun and Jo have worked hard, but have been unable to turn the corner with the business and their comments on social media reflect this situation. We have and will continue to work with them on their options.”