New Northamptonshire pub landlords fill village's store void during coronavirus lockdown

'There was a real need for a shop locally offering essentials, takeaway food items and good coffee and we have been delighted at how popular it is proving'

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 3:35 pm

A Northamptonshire village pub has opened a shop within its walls to help residents get the essentials they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The George Inn in Tiffield is now selling the usual supermarket items as well as fresh pastries and cakes, takeaway hot drinks and homemade pickles and jams.

Landlords Laura Cook and Martin Steele, who only took on the pub in July, converted one of the rooms into a store having realised the need for one during the November lockdown.

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Tiffield resident Phyllis Power (left) drops in to pick up some essentials from The George, with publican Laura Cook
Tiffield resident Phyllis Power (left) drops in to pick up some essentials from The George, with publican Laura Cook

Laura said: “Since we took on the pub last year the local residents have been fully supportive. We really appreciated the support of locals in helping us to get the shop open.

"There was a real need for a shop locally offering essentials, takeaway food items and good coffee and we have been delighted at how popular it is proving."

After an extensive refurbishment following Laura and Martin's takeover, The George reopened with much support from residents in August having been shut since the first lockdown.

But the lack of a village shop was soon noticed so the pair turned to Pub is The Hub, a not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify, for help.

Laura Cook and Martin Steele, landlords of The George in Tiffield, celebrate the opening of their shop

Pub is The Hub provided a grant from its community services fund to help transform one of The George's rooms while locals also gave their time to help set it up once again.

Regional advisor for the organisation, Dave Allan, said: “Publicans Laura and Martin have really made themselves part of the local area in a short space of time.

“The village shop has become a crucial amenity for those living locally and has helped to keep the spirits up of many in the local area.”

The shop, which opens daily between 12pm-2pm, offers essentials such as bread, milk, eggs, cheese and toilet rolls.

Much of the produce is sourced from local businesses like Northampton butcher HWJ Pargiter Butchers, which provides warm sausage rolls, pasties and pork pies.

The Little Bakery of Happiness in Wellingborough provides gluten-free pies, cakes and tarts, while Northampton-based Friars Farm, owned by ex-Tiffield resident Steve Reid, is another supplier.

Eggs are delivered each week from a farm in Greens Norton and there are twice weekly bread deliveries from Whittlebury Bakery.

There is also a book swap and the pub is offering a takeaway menu with toasties, bagels and paninis along with meals such as fish and chips and sausages and mash.

Laura said: “It was also important that we were able to connect with locals that were feeling isolated and needed support at this difficult time through the village shop.

"They have really enjoyed being able to walk to the shop and have a quick chat.

"We cannot wait to welcome everyone back to the pub when we are able to reopen.”