Star pub eyes outside pizza oven as part of lavish garden project

The Red Lion, Shepperton

A Star Pubs property on the banks of the Thames is considering an outside wood fire pizza oven as part of the second phase of its redevelopment.

The Red Lion in Shepperton has just finished the first stage of the project in which it created a £160,000 St Tropez-style pub garden. The project, which was a joint investment with licensees, The Shepperton Pub Company, is the biggest of Star’s £2.4m 2016 external CAPEX programme.

The Red Lion’s garden has involved nearly two years of planning and required special permissions from the Rivers Authority and local council. Construction has taken 12 weeks.

It has included installing a 20-metre jetty with mooring for five river boats and cruisers and rebuilding the crumbling riverbank, renovating the original wall where possible and putting in gabion baskets.

The investment has added seating for 70 people to the Red Lion and transformed an unremarkable grassed area with picnic tables into a stunning garden and dining area.

Management of the pub now plan to bring in an outside wood fire pizza oven to serve the area when they begin the second phase of the project next year.

Lawson Mountstevens, Star Pubs & Bars managing director, said: “The Red Lion’s garden will be one of the top spots on the Thames. Investment in external areas is a cost effective way of increasing covers and licensees that don’t invest risk losing custom to competitors during good weather.”

The garden complements the £500,000 refurbishment of the Red Lion that Star Pubs & Bars and the Shepperton Pub Company undertook in 2014.

The Red Lion is the Shepperton Pub Company’s first pub. Directors Steve Orme, James Thomson and Jack Sutton, who also run the award-winning Fish Club restaurant in Clapham, are now looking for more undeveloped long lease FRI sites with potential in the London area with a view to ultimately creating a group of five pubs.

“We’re firm believers in sweating our assets. The new garden will be like a small business in its own right. It’s in a prime location and we estimate it will increase our customer base by a further 25% – 30%,” said Orme.

He added: “Star have been very easy to work with, it’s a good partnership which has made us positive about taking another leased pub. The ability to secure great sites without tying up the funds required to buy a pub or restaurant and the joint investment that the leased pub model provides are highly attractive. Having used our skill and knowledge from the restaurant trade to build a successful gastro pub, we are keen to replicate that approach in more pubs.”

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