An award-winning Warwickshire pub has new owners after the previous managers decided to call time following 25 years of dedicated service.
The Bell Inn, in the popular village of Welford on Avon, has been bought by local couple Tony Gardner and Rita Faccenda.
The pub has won the coveted Good Pub guides ‘Warwickshire Dining Pub of the Year’ for the last six years and has recently been awarded the title for a seventh time in 2021.
Tony, moved to Stratford upon Avon in 1999 to run Benford Ltd a manufacturing business in Warwick and has lived in the area for more than twenty years and was joined a year ago by his partner Rita who moved down from South Lanarkshire in Scotland.
Rita has worked in hospitality all her life, starting as a child when she worked in her parent’s café. For the past 20 years she has owned and managed two Italian restaurants alongside her family members.
Tony said: “We have been looking for around two years for the right opportunity and couldn’t believe our luck when we discovered the Bell Inn was available. It’s a pub I have been a regular customer of for over twenty years and introduced my family and friends to.”
“The pub has won many awards for its traditional, simply well-cooked pub food, coupled with great customer service, and that’s what we intend to continue to provide. We have a team of twenty loyal staff – many of whom have been an integral part of the business for an average of fifteen years, and we feel privileged to be able to retain them, ready for when we re-open our doors next week.”
Rita added: “Some people may question our decision to purchase a pub during what remains a tricky time for the sector. However, given the pub’s reputation, excellent staff, and its’ history, we feel that it was just too good an opportunity to miss and are extremely excited about the future.”
“We cannot wait to open our beautiful garden on 12th April and to bring the pub to life again. We are looking forward to really getting to know our customers, many of whom we have met through the takeaway service we have been providing. As you would expect, we have introduced a number of safety measures to keep our customers and staff safe so that people can feel relaxed and enjoy their dining experience.”
The pub enjoys a colourful history, having provided refreshment for over 300 years. It is rumoured that William Shakespeare stopped at the Bell Inn for a drink on his way home to Stratford following a meeting with Drayton and Ben Johnson on an evening of heavy rain, which resulted in him contracting fatal pneumonia. This account was published by John Ward, the Vicar of Holy Trinity Church who wrote this account sometime after Shakespeare’s death.
Tony added: “The Bell Inn is an institution going back hundreds of years and we see ourselves as the current custodians until such time that we pass it on, which we hope will be many, many years’ time.”