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Winckley Street Ale House takeover – one year on

Posted on - 14th April, 2024 - 6:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Food & Drink, People, Preston News, Proud Preston, Pubs, Restaurants in Preston, Winckley Square
Jonathon (left) with Paul Yates and Simon the chef (right).
Jonathon (left) with Paul Yates and Simon the chef (right).

A man from Preston is celebrating the one-year anniversary of owning his own pub, The Winckley Street Ale House.

Paul Yates took over the craft and cask beer pub last February, and has been reflecting on his time owning a small, independent business in the centre of the city.

Although running into a few stumbling blocks along the way, Paul alongside his small team of son, Jonathon, wife, Kirsty, barman, Luis and chef, Simon has managed to stay afloat with lots in store for the future.

Read more: Site and opening date confirmed for new All Hopes No Promises

Winckley Street Ale House. Pic: Paul Yates
Winckley Street Ale House. Pic: Paul Yates

Working in aerospace before his retirement two years ago, Paul said taking over the pub was an ‘eye-opening’ experience, especially in regard to doing everything alone from making contacts to paying the bills.

However, Paul did have an advantage, with the support from other local businesses in Preston, which he said was great.

“I thought everyone would be competition but they’re not. Everyone was so friendly, we got on and helped each other.

“The biggest help was actually the other craft bars – The Guild Ale House, The Black Horse and Plug and Taps and Chain House – all of them helped us.

“During ‘Pub Fest’ some people actually came and helped behind the bar when we were struggling.”

Paul’s son Jonathon worked at the bar before the takeover, he was able to help with his wide array of craft beer knowledge.

They worked as a duo to put the very first ‘Pub Fest’ together last September, alongside other pubs which brought more money to the street. The weekend celebration saw food, beer events and live music across the city – billed as “a celebration of craft beer, real ale and Preston’s extraordinary pub culture.”

Paul said: “People go to festivals for their drinks, so we said why don’t we invite them into the small venues instead?

“Preston now has this real community of craft beer drinkers – it’s funny because I’m a lager drinker – I can’t stand it.”

They plan to be involved again this year, with the hopes of more places taking part.

Read more: Guild Ale House given ‘pub of the season’ award by CAMRA

Two hands holding pints of beer outside Winckley Street Ale House Pic: Nick Elsby
Winckley Street Ale House will host events for Preston Pub Festival Pic: Nick Elsby

But not all has been smooth sailing, with many challenges for the team along the way from late deliveries, to utility companies searching for money which isn’t owed and problems with footfall.

“One of the issues I do have is footfall, people are not coming out as often for lunch.

“With The Guild Hall being closed, it’s not bringing people in. We need comedians, dance acts, and live music in the city to help us small pubs and restaurants.”

Paul also talked about how nowadays people pay by card and if customers paid with cash more, they would be able to afford more kegs or even more staff. 

“I didn’t realise but when I worked in a big organisation, I never used cash. Now I know how important it is, a pound is a pound.

“With the extra money, we could get someone else to help during the busier times instead of just one person, creating more jobs for the city.”

Despite the challenges, the father and son duo stuck together and worked things out. On a personal level, Paul felt a sense of pride in the pub’s success, being able to provide a legacy for Jonathon. 

Read more: Shawes Arms up for sale again following extensive structural refurbishment

Father and son duo - Jonathon and Paul.
Father and son duo – Jonathon and Paul.

“I am so proud of him, he knows his ales and the community are all like his friends. 

“He is the face of the pub, he loves it. I just do all the things he hates doing like dealing with the paperwork.”

Following a successful year, Jonathon and Paul both have great things in store for the Ale House, such as campaigning for the street to be pedestrianised and planning more festivals – it is definitely one to keep a close eye on.

You can find out more via The Winckley Street Ale House Facebook page.

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