The Ash pub is bidding to become the News & Mail's Pub of the Year 2013
With a prominent position in Ash Street, the newly refurbished Greyhound Inn has this September bounded back to life.
The 16th century pub in Ash reopened recently after a £125,000 10-day makeover, with extra staff, a vastly extended food offering, and new loyalty deals for its customers.
A wood burning fire has been installed, oak floors laid down and the wooden beams restored – and the orders for Christmas are flooding in.
“We’re a locals’ pub,” said Stephen Everett, who manages The Greyhound on behalf its owners, the Stonegate Pub Company.
“We’ve got a very strong local drinkers base, but we also attract more families now than we did before.
“We’re more user-friendly.”
The pub has upped its number of real ales from three to four, including the Hogs Back Brewery’s Awesome Ale and TEA, as well as Green King IPA and Wainwright golden ale from Thwaites.
Peroni is available as well, in keeping with the management’s new focus on premium products.
The dining room walls, built in the traditional blond brickwork, have also been newly adorned with stylish black-and-white photos.
“When we did the total refurbishment we carried out some research into the area and came up with a lot of military pictures,” said Mr Elliot, who trained as a military chef in Aldershot.
“We’ve had some really good feedback about how the place looks.”
Ash lies on the fringes of what were the ancient Royal Hunting Forests, and the pub is said to have started life as a Tudor hunting lodge.
It can therefore claim far greater heritage than the majority of pubs in the area, which sprung up after the army came to Aldershot in the 1850s.
The eponymous greyhound is thought to be derived from the crest of the local Gayesford family.
Mr Everett aims to promote the pub’s traditional credentials while providing a spruced up, modern service, and the enhanced food operation is without question the jewel in the new-look Greyhound’s crown.
“We provide table service now and can feed over 90 people in one go,” he said. “Since the pub re-opened we have employed five chefs, four of them full-time.”
The formula seems to be working – The Greyhound took more than £6,000 in food sales in its first week and last weekend had to turn eaters away.
The weekend roast has proved the most popular new dish.
Mr Everett said: “We’ve had to up the number of joints we cook each week. Last weekend we ran out by 1pm.”
Despite the rise in its fortunes, The Greyhound is determined to preserve its links with the local community in Ash.
“We have strong ties with Walsh Memorial School,” said Mr Everett, “And we’re very close to the sheltered housing at Japonica Court, so we have lots of the elderly ladies and gentlemen in for a drink."
The pub likes to do its bit for charity, and the manager plans to raise money for parental accommodation at London’s Great Ormond Street children's hospital by riding the Chilterns way with other Stonegate pub managers.
The Greyhound is also drumming up funds for the upkeep of a beach hut in Dorset in which service personnel can relax as part of Adam’s Hoofing Hut appeal.
The project is in memory of Adam Brown, a Yateley commando killed in Afghanistan.
A range of loyalty deals is a key strand in the revitalised Greyhound’s fresh strategy.
An ale card is on offer, whereby the seventh pint comes free, and the menu now boasts two main meals for £10.45.
Holders of the shiny new gold loyalty card get a 25% discount, and their sixth main course for free.
Mr Everett added: “We just want to be kind to the people who have been so kind to us during the transition.”