Owner of award-winning Northants pub shares gratitude for ‘whirlwind’ year and all the exciting things going on
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The owner of a Northamptonshire pub has shared his gratitude for the venue’s “whirlwind” of a year, as the team continues to win prestigious awards.
This was their second award of the night, with owner Joe Buckley being named F&B Achiever of the Year.
Described as a quintessential thatched pub serving the best of local ingredients – with “incredible hospitality and ambience” – the venue was also named ‘East Midlands Pub & Bar of the Year’ at The National Pub & Bar Awards 2023.
Alongside the award wins, there is plenty going on at the venue – including successful pub quizzes, the return of ‘dining in the dark’, the Tolly Larder, and the launch of The Interiors Larder and Christmas grotto.
Joe said: “When we look back on the year, it seems like a whirlwind. We’ve won everything we aimed to achieve and it’s now about working out what’s next.
“We’ve put Harrington on the map and our visitors are proud of us.”
A new barn area, the Orchard Barn, was installed in May this year and it has now been turned into a Christmas area for the seasonal months.
The barn area will serve a full bar, hot chocolates and street food, offer crafts for kids and is home to their Christmas shop, The Interiors Larder.
Working alongside Interiors Larder, the shop offers Christmas decorations and gifts for all the family – spanning across kids, adults and even dogs.
“It’s really nice that people can come to The Tolly, have a wicked evening and then buy gifts to take home,” said Joe. “It works hand-in-hand with the Tolly Larder too. It’s about celebrating the best of Northamptonshire and our 12 local suppliers. It’s amazing.”
Joe says an important part of the experience at The Tolly is “celebrating everything local” on a “micro level”.
When visiting the venue, people are not just supporting The Tolly but the many local and small businesses they supply and offer.
“It’s the small details,” said Joe, when asked what sets the pub apart from other venues. “There are lots of things that happen in pubs that people don’t see.”
To add a “super personal” touch, the team likes to give out bespoke birthday cards, with the staff tasked with finding out customers' names.
Joe also believes it comes down to their “great sourcing of ingredients, good training of staff, and the best front of house team they have ever had”.
The Tollemache Arms was awarded a national training award this year, which Joe says is recognition of the hard work they put into being at the top of their game.
The team ensures they provide a bespoke service for every customer, and they have been praised for being “welcoming to everyone” and “super friendly”.
With many days currently fully booked, Joe says they “don’t take it for granted” and feel lucky to experience what will “probably be the busiest year to date”.
“We worked really hard to win awards and don’t rest on our laurels,” said Joe. “There’s always the potential room for growth.”
The ‘dining in the dark’ series has made its return, running every Thursday in November. The venue turns off all the lights and electric, which began last year as part of their sustainability mission and to showcase the cost of living crisis.
Local musicians are welcomed in and the venue “transforms to be candle lit”, which Joe described as “beautiful”.
The Tolly’s ‘Christmas Day at home’ is also available, in which they prepare three-course dinner kits packaged beautifully – and all customers have to do is reheat and plate it up.