Changing trends close the Elephant and Castle

CHANGES in drinking habits have been blamed for the closure of 170-year-old pub.

The Elephant and Castle in Hospital Road, Bury St Edmunds, has closed after landlord Sean Driscoll decided not to renew his lease with Greene King.

He said: “It’s a lovely building and it was a very difficult decision to make. I didn’t renew the lease because the business was suffering for some time.

“There is still money for socialising but people are just a bit more choosey about how they spend it.

“A few years ago you wouldn’t have gone down Abbeygate Street and seen all the restaurants packed. Now you can get two-for ones, vouchers and all sorts of offers and pubs can’t compete with that.”

He said the days when a lad aspired to going down the pub because his father did were gone. “People have far more to do with their time now,” he said. “It means we haven’t been getting the raw recruits.”

The Elephant and Castle was too small to allow it to offer food and suffered for its location.

Mr Driscoll, who has 20 years’ pub trade experience, said: “It’s just on the periphery of the town, quite residential. It is neither in town, nor out of town. People never saw it as a place to go in the evening.”

Mr Driscoll is concentrating on his other pubs, The Bennett Arms, Rougham, The Victoria, Thurston, and The Greyhound in Eastgate Street, Bury, which has just closed for refurbishment funded jointly by Mr Driscoll’s company Metroinns and Greene King.

A Greene King spokesperson said: “We are very much committed to running friendly, high quality pubs, which can be enjoyed by everyone in the community.

“To continue to invest in our pubs and to provide the best experience and surroundings for our customers, we do sometimes have to make the difficult decision to close pubs which have become unviable due to a reduction in the number of customers. We have to respond to the changing face of retail in our town centres, which can, and does, impact on decisions about pubs’ futures.

“The Elephant and Castle is currently closed pending a decision about its long term future.”