Troubled Royal Oak pub in Sudbury to open again with new name

The Royal Oak pub in Sudbury underwent major refurbishment in 2013

The Royal Oak pub in Sudbury underwent major refurbishment in 2013 - Credit: Archant

A 17th century Suffolk pub with a chequered past is to be renamed and taken on by a new manager less than three months after a “grand reopening” in April.

Steven and Debbie Morgan took over at The Royal Oak pub in Sudbury in April but have now quit

Steven and Debbie Morgan took over at The Royal Oak pub in Sudbury in April but have now quit - Credit: Archant

Earlier this year Steven and Debbie Morgan took over the Royal Oak in King Street, Sudbury, which is owned by Punch Taverns.

The pub was given a £200,000 face lift in 2013 but the then-tenants quit the business a year after they opened because they could not make it pay. Subsequently a series of temporary managers were installed seeing trade plummet even further.

Mr Morgan, 46, and his wife Debbie, 47, moved to Sudbury from Portugal to run the Royal Oak in April. However, less than three months on, Punch Taverns told us that there had been a disagreement over the couple’s contract and that a new manager had now been appointed.

The Royal Oak is now set to reopen on August 7 as The Gainsborough. A Punch Taverns spokesman admitted that things had been “a bit hit and miss at the pub in recent times” but said new publican Darren Hall was hoping to turn it back into a popular bar and grill.


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Sudbury man Mr Hall, who has 20 years experience in the pub business, said he was looking forward to helping regenerate trade in his home town.

“I’ve always felt at home and welcome in Sudbury, and that’s exactly how I want my customers to feel,” he said.

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“I’m determined to make a success of The Gainsborough. The name change is important, but so is my vision of creating a really happening bar and grill.”

Mike Reider, new business development manager for Punch Taverns, described the move as a “fresh start” for the pub.

He added: “Darren has the vision and experience to deliver an exceptional bar and grill and we really hope the community will enjoy this new addition to the town.

“It’s been a pleasure working with him on the vision, style and launch of this key pub within the town and I’m confident it’s what Sudbury has been waiting for.”

Last night, Mr Morgan said the whole experience had caused a huge amount of disruption to his family. He added that he and his wife were offered and accepted a two-part agreement over a period of three or four months, but there was then an disagreement as to its terms.

“We entered into a 12-week legal dispute that ended up with us giving Punch notice of our intention to leave the premises on June 28,” he said.

“This all happened after we had relocated from thousands of miles away and had invested a significant amount of money and emotion into the pub.”

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