Award-winning Northamptonshire hotel, restaurant and pub to celebrate 50 years and the legacy created
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An independent restaurant, inn and country house hotel is set to celebrate 50 years open at the start of next month.
The Pytchley Inn, in West Haddon, was first opened on April 1, 1973 by Jim Demetri – who first moved from Cyprus to the UK in 1959.
After learning the hospitality trade and a completely new language, Jim bought his first restaurant, The Royal in Wellingborough Road.
His purchase of The Pytchley came several years later, after visiting West Haddon for a quiet drink and falling in love with the venue which was up for sale at the time.
Jim still plays an important role in the business 50 years later, as well as his wife Tracy Demetri who “steers the ship built on the legacy Jim created”.
Tracy and Jim have been together since 1995 and Tracy’s involvement at The Pytchley began after they got married in 2000.
Tracy said: “Our venue is all about relaxed and informal dining. It used to be a destination restaurant with silver service and a separate bar, inspired by dining in the seventies and eighties.”
In the late eighties, “big changes” were made to The Pytchley. Jim noticed people were only eating at venues like his occasionally for celebrations, and the industry was moving towards relaxed meals out with family.
“Since the linen was stripped back and the venue was reopened as a family establishment with elements of a steakhouse, business has boomed,” said Tracy.
“Moving from destination to informal, family dining was a risky move and it paid off.”
To celebrate five decades of being open, The Pytchley is inviting all present and past staff members to a get together on April 1.
As well as that, a draw will be held each week in April and a free dinner for two will be given away to four sets of lucky winners.
When asked what it feels like to still be going strong at such a difficult time for hospitality venues, Tracy said: “I’m so proud of Jim’s achievements, and the longevity and reputation he has built.
“It gives me a buzz every time someone shakes his hand to congratulate him on the business he has built.
“He is known as ‘gentleman Jim’ and it’s so lovely to know how many lives he has touched and the many memories people hold.”
Tracy’s proudest moment during her time at The Pytchley was when they won the ‘Rose Service Award’ from VisitEngland, the national tourist board for the country.
She said: “That win was something we didn’t see coming.”
Tracy believes the way The Pytchley has remained a contender in Northamptonshire’s food and drink industry is by “being creative”.
Their business model has remained the same, and they have continued to pride themselves on offering good value pub classics for all the family.
During the week, they operate a £12.50 lunch deal and kids under 10 eat free during the week between 4pm and 6pm – as long as another adult has ordered a main meal.
Tracy says it is “all about keeping things fresh and new” and they always change up the specials on offer.
The venue recently reintroduced small plates at a more affordable price point, and for National Pie Week they ran a pie and pint deal for £12.50.
It is initiatives like this that have kept The Pytchley going strong over the past five decades.
“You’ve got to be ahead of the game,” says Tracy, who is proud of how the venue adapted during its most difficult challenge – the pandemic.
She added: “We remember watching the announcement on television where people were advised not to visit pubs. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing.
“When the first lockdown was announced, people were given time to finish their food and we had to close.”
Their menu was redesigned following the start of the first lockdown and they quickly relaunched as a takeaway, working to fulfil 600 orders a week.
Tracy believes the biggest challenge for the hospitality industry lies ahead with the uncertainty of the cost of living crisis – which she says has left The Pytchley with the dilemma of balancing cost increases and maintaining value for money.
The Pytchley has 50 members of staff on the books, ranging from the housekeeping to kitchen teams.
“We have a fantastic team,” said Tracy. “And some of the chefs have been with us for as long as 15 years, which is great as recruiting is tough.
“We also welcome students to work for us, and they learn an awful lot from the hospitality industry and interacting with the public.”
The owner says the business is “all about the staff being the front faces” and customers always want to be welcomed with a smile – which you can guarantee at The Pytchley.
Tracy also described their customers’ loyalty as “incredible” as without such an amazing base, they would cease to exist.
Jim goes out of his way to thank customers for visiting, whether they be regulars or visit from time to time.
“There are people who drive 10 miles from Northampton to see us, which we are so touched by,” said Tracy. “We want to thank our customers for contributing to our continued success.”
Looking to the years ahead, The Pytchley team plans to “continue doing what they know they are good at” and will not be heading in a different direction any time soon.
They will continue to provide the “consistency and value for money” that has kept them in business for the past five decades.