The Willenhall bar and restaurant that's gone from derelict building to award winners

As pubs continue to battle the cost of living crisis, the Express & Star continues its Love Your Local series which celebrates our local inns.

Jubilee House co-owners Gully Singh and Bulla Dhillon have faced plenty of challenges as they've built up their business
Jubilee House co-owners Gully Singh and Bulla Dhillon have faced plenty of challenges as they've built up their business

Jubilee House in Willenhall has recently won its regional heat of the Tiffin Cup, an annual competition to find the best South Asian restaurants.

The business won the award for the best South Asian restaurant across Bloxwich, Willenhall and Walsall North, and is now moving towards the national finals.

This is despite the business being a bar and restaurant, and would even say it's a pub that serves food, but it is a testament to the hard work that the staff have put in to get the recognition they rightly deserve.

Located in Forge Road, Willenhall, co-owners Bulla Dhillon and Gully Singh took over the derelict building in 2007.

With nothing but a vision on what they wanted the place to look like, they set about getting the project underway, and after a lot of hard work, sacrifice and time spent on transforming the building, it then became Jubilee House.

Speaking on what that experience was like, Bulla, 43, says: "It was a project when we took over, as there was no business here, it was derelict.

"We did a complete revamp of the whole place, started everything from scratch, and so it took starting from fresh and to simply hope for the best.

"We were essentially throwing all our eggs into one basket with the hope that people would appreciate the hard work and start coming in, and thankfully they have.

"Once people became aware of it, they started coming in and began to like the place.

"We opened around Christmas 2007 and then the 2008 recession hit, so it wasn't easy and that was the first major obstacle, but we got through it, built it up slowly and learned as we went along.

"It wasn't a case of getting the keys and opening, we had to put plans together on what we wanted it to look like and then physically get it done."

Jubilee House co-owners Bulla Dhillon and Gully Singh with chefs Madhav Adhikari and Vinod Goutam

Like almost all businesses, the hospitality industry was majorly affected by the Covid pandemic, and now faces challenges in the face of the cost of living crisis, but Bulla said they used the lockdown period as a time to transform the business and it has paid off.

He adds: "Since 2007 we have further developed over the years and despite Covid being a tough time for most businesses and especially this industry, we actually used the time to develop the building and change the shape of the business.

"So we had a function room where we would host events but during the lockdown we of course couldn't host any parties and we ended up cancelling all bookings, and converted that room into a big dining place with an open kitchen.

"So now we are open on both sides serving food, in the bar area and also in the new dining space.

"It has been running great since opening. We have always served food here, but when we did the transformation during Covid we hired new chefs as well, and since then, everyone has noticed the difference in food and everyone that comes in, enjoys it.

Nick Hughes and Adam Williams enjoy a drink at Jubilee House

"When we first started off there wasn't much competition here in Willenhall doing mixed grills but we stuck to it, improved on the quality and made it a great experience for everyone that comes in.

"So Covid hitting gave us the scope to change the business and rather than being closed and picking up the pieces once we were allowed to open up, it gave us the time to make a massive and the business has grown since then."

Jubilee House serves a variety of foods, and like Desi-pubs across the Midlands, it has become one of the most popular spots for regulars to go in and enjoy drinks and the quality food served, mainly the famous mixed-grill.

A huge wave of popularity of 'Desi pubs' has risen in recent years, where pubs that were maybe once struggling or just simply had a transformation and change with the times, now serve top quality Indian food, including the ever famous 'Mix Grill', which arrives to your table sizzling on a platter, with a range of items including tandoori fish, lamb chops, chicken tikka - the options are endless and mouthwatering.

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They offer a range of items such as the mixed grills, both meat and vegetarian, curries, plus many more.

Bulla said that they did not even know they had won the Tiffin Cup for the area, and only discovered it when MP for Walsall North, Eddie Hughes turned up to eat with all the local councillors and the Mayor of Walsall, and they revealed it to the owners halfway through the meal that Jubilee House had won the award, and Eddie has now nominated them for the national award.

Speaking about this Bulla says: "It was a bit of a surprised to be told halfway through their meal when they revealed that we won. It was a nice surprise!"

The pub is very popular with locals not only for the food and drink they serve, but also because the venue shows all the big sports and football events, and more specifically on their 160-inch screen, which according to Bulla and Gully, is the biggest TV screen in any pub in Willenhall.

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