Help Our Hospitality: ‘Use or lose independent venues’ says popular 50-year-old Northamptonshire restaurant and pub

“If people don’t continue supporting independents, businesses like us will get swept by”
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After celebrating its 50 year anniversary at the start of April, The Pytchley is the next venue to share its input for the Help Our Hospitality campaign.

The Pytchley Inn, an independent restaurant, inn and country house hotel in West Haddon, was first opened in 1973 by Jim Demetri.

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After learning the hospitality trade and a completely new language after moving from Cyprus to the UK in 1959, Jim bought his first restaurant – The Royal in Wellingborough Road.

The Pytchley Inn was first opened in West Haddon in 1973 by Jim Demetri.The Pytchley Inn was first opened in West Haddon in 1973 by Jim Demetri.
The Pytchley Inn was first opened in West Haddon in 1973 by Jim Demetri.

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.

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When previously talking to this newspaper about the venue’s big milestone, Tracy said: “We are 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.”

The independent restaurant, inn and country house hotel celebrated its 50th anniversary at the start of April.The independent restaurant, inn and country house hotel celebrated its 50th anniversary at the start of April.
The independent restaurant, inn and country house hotel celebrated its 50th anniversary at the start of April.

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.”

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At what is proving to be a challenging time for the hospitality industry, Tracy says the team has noticed a slight drop in footfall – particularly earlier on in the week.

The Pytchley is all about relaxed dining for all the family.The Pytchley is all about relaxed dining for all the family.
The Pytchley is all about relaxed dining for all the family.

“People are coming out less often,” she said. “The weekends are still busy and we know we aren’t alone in that.

“We are trying to find creative ways to encourage people to come out more often, as well as making it affordable during the quieter times.”

The Pytchley’s business model has remained the same over the decades, and they have continued to pride themselves on offering good value pub classics for all the family.

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During the week, they operate a £12.50 lunch deal and kids under 10 eat free 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, for those who want to support the business but may not want an entire meal.

Something Tracy would also like to see return is the pie and pint deal for £12.50, which they ran during National Pie Week in March.

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As this proved extremely popular and they sold more pies than they could imagine, Tracy would like to see that become a staple on their menu.

Tracy said: “This difficult time isn’t about venues dipping in popularity, it’s about the affordability of eating out as often as people would like.

“Customers are more discerning about what they spend their money on.”

When asked what keeps customers coming back to The Pytchley, Tracy says it is “without a doubt the service and friendly welcome”.

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“The reviews constantly refer back to the good service, as visitors want their custom to be appreciated,” said Tracy. “Our staff do that hands down.”

Tracy also believes value for money has been key to their success and while ingredient prices have increased, they have stuck to their guns.

The venue reviewed its menu last year and had no choice but to raise some prices, but they continue to keep an eye on competitors to remain affordable.

Tracy said: “We keep things simple. Our basic offer of steak, chips and peas is straightforward and people enjoy it.”

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Despite a fillet steak being the most expensive item on the menu, it is still the most popular.

Sunday roasts are also a popular choice, with the beef option being the most expensive, followed by lamb – and turkey and pork as the cheapest.

Interestingly, despite being the most expensive, the mixed, beef and lamb roasts are still the most ordered.

“We remain good value for money,” said Tracy, who wants to send out the message that if customers want to see their favourite independent venues thriving, the only way is to continue choosing them over chains.

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She added: “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. People value independent businesses and those striving to offer something different in the heart of the town and rurally.

“The only way to see that continue is by paying them a visit.”

One thing that touched Tracy during the celebrations for The Pytchley’s 50th anniversary is the “sense of community and loyalty to eating locally”.

“If people don’t continue, businesses like us will get swept by,” she said.

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Having had a large involvement in The Pytchley since 2000, Tracy says the main thing that has evolved is the popularity of chains.

She puts this down to the level of “consistency and familiarity” they offer, as “people like to know the meal will be the same quality no matter if they are in the same location or different”.

Looking to the near future, Tracy looks forward to the summer and opening up the garden once again.

The Pytchley will be heavily involved in West Haddon’s Coronation celebrations, offering coronation chicken wings, filled Yorkshire puddings and drinks pitchers to take away.

To keep up with The Pytchley, you can visit their Facebook page here.

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