ONE of Bury St Edmunds longest serving pub families say they are devasted after being ‘forced out’ of business.
Chris and Jane Warton have run The Masons Arms for 23 years and their daughter Nikki took over the tenancy three years ago, but they say the combined effects of the opening of a Wetherspoon’s just yards down the road and a lack of financial support from Greene King means that they will close tomorrow.
“We’re devastated, we just cannot afford to run it any more,” said Nikki.
“Wetherspoon’s has not helped – that has had a big effect.
“The pub is also looking a bit tired, we need a bit of a refurbishment but we cannot afford to do it.
“Saturday is going to be our last day. We will be having a leaving party from 7.30pm and everyone is welcome to join us.”
Over the years, the pub has run successful open mic nights twice a month.
It is understood Greene King will put in new tenants on Tuesday next week.
But pubs campaigner John Gagen, from the West Suffolk branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “I’m suprised that Greene King hasn’t given them more support with Wetherspoons on their doorstep.
“It has been a well run and very popular pub over the years – they’ve been there 23 years so they must have been doing something right.
“They must be one of Bury’s longest serving landlords. To lose a long-standing landlord like that is a real shame.
“One of the reasons that the pub trade is suffering is because there are not enough good landlords coming into the trade.”
A Greene King spokesperson said: “The vast majority of our licensees are very happy with the support and pubs we offer.
“We are disappointed that Mr and Mrs Warton decided to leave, however new licensees have come on board straightaway to run the Masons Arms and are looking forward to welcoming customers new and old.”