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New management at Village pub in Walthamstow
The new manager of an historic pub in the heart of Walthamstow Village says he is relishing the challenge of turning around its fortunes.
Ben Williams, 29, took over at The Village in Orford Road last month as part of a shake-up by owners Foundation Inns.
Mr Williams said the small chain felt it was time for new management following concerns about the pub's performance.
It has also hired his long-time friend and colleague Matthew Todd as new head chef.
Mr Williams said: "We didn't want to make too many changes straight away, but it has already gone really well.
"We're about 10 to 15 per cent up on our takings compared to this time last year, which is great. The customers seem very positive about what we're doing.
"Our main objective when we started was to improve the food, which was pretty woeful.
"If you look online there were some pretty bad reviews. Before it was brought in frozen but now it's all freshly made.
"We've just changed the menu and will be changing it again in a couple of weeks. We want it to remain a traditional pub but just with a lot better food.”
Mr Williams has been in the pub management trade since he bought one in York at the tender age of 21.
With the help of his friend Matthew the pub soon gained a number of awards including a Michelin Bib Gourmand, which is one below the Michelin star rating for "good food at moderate prices".
Mr Williams sold the pub six years later after his plans to turn it into a hotel were thwarted by the local council, and he then moved to a Foundation Inns pub in Oxford before coming to Walthamstow.
He said: "When I told people I was going to Walthamstow some people said it was awful, but I really like the village.
"It doesn't seem like London and everyone really does seem to know everyone else."
Mr Williams said he was confident that The Village pub would survive the competition.
He added: "The Nags Head is a bit quirky and mad, while the Queens is all about things like football and karaoke, so I think we have our niche.
"I'm making subtle changes and just want it to be a bit more relaxed.
"We're keeping the quiz and poker nights but I'm also planning on having live acoustic music on Sundays and outdoor film screenings in the summer."
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