There will be new faces behind the bar at the Old Bell in Henley in early April – but they won’t be unfamiliar to the town’s residents and workers. Nuno Rosado and Ondine Carrington, the new licensees at the popular Brakspear pub on Bell Street, already operate two local restaurants and will operate the Old Bell as a drinks-focused business to complement them.
The Old Bell will reopen in mid-April after a makeover to revive the pub’s interior, enhancing its traditional and welcoming feel. The pub will no longer be serving food, but concentrating on offering a great range of drinks: Brakspear ales, including those from the Bell Street Brewery across the road as well as bottled beers and an extensive wine list.
Ms Carrington said, “We’re thrilled to be taking the keys to the Old Bell and looking forward to welcoming customers old and new. We’ll be offering a great range of drinks, served by friendly, professional staff in a relaxed atmosphere, which we think will have wide appeal, particularly to local business people wanting a lunchtime or after work drink.
“It’s great to have the Bell Street Brewery ales on tap, and we’re also one of the pubs on the Henley Ale Trail, so we’re expecting a good beer trade. And we’re pleased to be back working with Brakspear, having previously run Ko-Ko – a bar-restaurant which is now the Bull on Bell Street – for three years until 2012.”
Ms Carrington and Mr Rosado have been running the Portuguese restaurant The Square for four years, and last May opened Al Forno, an Italian restaurant on Reading Road. The Square is in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 places to eat in Henley, and Al Forno is also garnering high praise.
The Old Bell’s former licensee Rob Myles-Hooton sadly died earlier this year at the age of 41 after three years at the pub. He and his wife Pamela had decided to leave the Old Bell to set up a vegan restaurant and Brakspear were already in the process of recruiting new tenants.
Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said, “We welcome Nuno and Ondine to the Old Bell. They are well-known in Henley, and have a proven track record as successful hospitality entrepreneurs which we’re confident will translate into a thriving pub. We wish them all good luck in their new venture and look forward to working with them again.”