Popular publican Robbie scoops long service award after 20 years at the George Hotel
- Credit: Archant
A well-known publican has scooped a national long service award to mark his 20th anniversary at the helm a Grade II listed landmark.
Robbie Lyons took over George Hotel in Chatteris in 2000 and since then has transformed the over 250-year-old building into a modern community hub.
Mr Lyons is not only celebrating being able to reopen under Tier 2 rules, but he is now named in the list of Star Pubs & Bars award recipients.
The licensee, who has been in the hospitality industry for four decades, says that 2020 has been “the toughest year to date”.
“I love the social side of running a pub and missed all the regulars during the lockdowns,” the 65-year-old said.
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“It felt very strange to come down to an empty pub but It’s fantastic to be open in time for Christmas.”
The award, given by the pub’s owner, highlights the contribution that Robbie has made to local life, including providing electricity for Chatteris’ Christmas Lights.
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Robbie transformed the pub from a little used, unloved local into a hub of the community employing 15 staff.
As well as investing in a major refurbishment, Robbie has created an 80-seat garden with space for children to play, revamped the letting rooms, introduced entertainment and fundraisers for local charities and brought in homemade food featuring Irish stew and Sunday roasts as specialties.
The changes revived The George’s fortunes attracting families and people of all ages including residents who had never visited before.
The Grade II listed pub has been a landmark of Chatteris since the 1750s. During the 1800’s, The George was a coaching inn with a six -horse carriage leaving for London every three days.
An old ticket from those days now has pride of place on the wall.
Robbie said: “The building is a rabbit warren. There’s even a small door upstairs leading to a space between the walls that’s big enough to walk around the pub in.
“I feel extremely lucky to have a spacious pub that serves food where people are able to comfortably socially distance.
“Customers were desperate for The George to reopen. We want to help bring some much-needed Christmas cheer to the area and have really gone to town on the decorations.”
Robbie, who comes from Ireland, has no intention of leaving Chatteris any time soon.
He said: “It’s a lovely little town and has become home. The people are fantastic.
“I can’t thank them enough for their support over the years but particularly during the last nine months.
“The George has served Chatteris for nearly three centuries and I’m determined to keep it thriving for future generations to enjoy.”
Danni Fraylich, area manager for Star Pubs & Bars, said: “It’s a great honour to present Robbie with this award.
“Robbie turned the pub around 20 years ago and has kept it at the top of its game ever since. It’s an outstanding achievement that requires real dedication, skill and a lot of hard work.”