Following a number of turbulent years, the Bear on Bedford High Street is set to reopen this Thursday (3 October) under new management, with an official launch party confirmed for 2 November.
Operating company, Hawthorn Leisure has reached an agreement with Stuart Turtill to take over the pub, and managing director of operations, Mark McGinty assured regulars that, “…the Bear that they know and love is well and truly back.”
Stuart has recently left the Big Cat Coma in Leamington Spa, and the revamped Bear will offer regular live music, karaoke and DJ nights.
“The Bear is a legendary pub in Bedford and I can’t wait to get going,” said Stuart.
“I want it to be somewhere that everyone can have a good time, so we’re going to focus on what it’s done best over the years – great drinks, great entertainment, and great atmosphere.
“Live music is going to be a key part of our offering, and I hope the pub will become a venue which showcases great local talent.”
The pub will also feature pool tables and dartboards, with Stuart keen to start up pub teams.
Former award-winning bar manager at the Bear, Hannah Deverick, said, “I’m optimistic about the new owners and hope that they’ll do right by the Bear and all us Bear people!
“I look forward to getting back in there.”
Another former staff member, Ben Woodfine said, “It would be lovely to see this pub return to the much-loved community venue it once was.
“Over the 18 years I worked there I got to meet some amazing people on both sides of the bar and still count many of them as family.
“Along with probably the best jukebox in the world we had some amazing local live music, raised loads of money for charities, won pool leagues, supported people through good and bad, and always had a smile on our faces and a drink in our hand!
“I wish the new team all the best and look forward to discovering what its future holds…who knows, we might even bring our pool team back!”
“We are pleased to see that the new management at The Bear seem to fit the image of The Bear as we knew it,” said Dan Veal, chairman of North Bedfordshire CAMRA.
“Hopefully they make use of the handpumps and put on interesting real ales, just like when Hannah was the manager.”
The Bear – and its former operator, Dan Fisher – had recently made headlines as staff alleged they were owed wages and holiday pay.
It is hoped that the much-cherished pub will reach legendary status once again.