Stafford's Bear Grill restaurant to move out of historic building
One of Stafford's landmark buildings, The Bear Grill, is to close its doors – making the future of the place uncertain.
The Bear Grill, in Greengate Street, will shut its doors in May after operating the Grade II listed building for more than 15 years.
The building dates back to 1650 and is a centre-piece in the town centre.
The Lewis Partnership, which runs the restaurant, as well as the The Swan and other eateries across the town, was 'saddened' to see it close.
The building is owned by Marston's and the lease will return to the brewery. It is understood a plan is in place to ensure the building does not stand empty.
Marston’s says it is 'committed' to continuing its operations in Stafford – with the future of its retail opportunities under consideration.
A spokesman said: “We can confirm that we will be taking The Bear, Stafford back from the Lewis Partnership after a successful 15 years at the site.
"We will continue to work closely to the Lewis Partnership in the future. In the meantime, we are currently considering the retail opportunities for the Bear and are committed to continuing our operations in Stafford.”
The restaurant will close on May 6.
Chris Lewis, managing partner of The Lewis Partnership said: "A break opportunity in the lease agreement of The Bear Grill led us to consider long and hard the portfolio of The Lewis Partnership and our visions for its future growth.
"We came to the decision, as a family, that letting The Bear go back to Marston’s for re-leasing would enable us to concentrate on the core strengths of the partnership.
"We will be saddened to close the doors of The Bear for the last time on May 5 but we sincerely hope that we have in some way contributed to the history and legacy of this iconic landmark on Stafford’s high street."
The Bear Grill joined the Staffordshire based hospitality company in 2003 and saw it transform from a town centre public house 'in need of a little TLC'.
The partnership says its future aim is to grow their independently owned business portfolio with a focus on destination dining village pubs – similar to their newest property acquisitions The Bank House, Hixon and The Red Lion, Bradley.
Mr Lewis says staff are expected to locate elsewhere in the business.
And Marston's are hoping to get someone moved in soon after The Bear Grill moves out of the building.
He added: "Marston's are putting it into their retail estate so it should be straight forward transition, they hope to have someone in there as we move out. That process has started now.
"We've started a process a couple of weeks ago with our team, instead of recruiting externally we've been re-distributing the team.
"So any vacancies we have, we've been offering members of the staff the first opportunity to apply for other opportunities."
The building has been an alehouse since 1758, when a small structural change was made enabling Stephen Perry to open an alehouse called the May Pole whilst Mrs Perry continued to occupy the main building.
About 25 years later, it became The White Bear, often referred to as The Bear.
Between 1793 and 1822, it was the stopping place for long distance coaches to London and Chester providing a change of horses in the Inns yard accessible from St Chads Place.
In 1835 the building officially became know as The Bear Inn.