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19th Jan, 2022

New-look Lion pub reopens in Shirley after £350k revamp

Tristan Harris 16th Dec, 2021 Updated: 16th Dec, 2021

A LANDMARK Shirley local has had a £350,000 revamp transforming it into a family-friendly pub and creating 30 new jobs.

The Lion Sport and Eat, formerly the Red Lion, is run by Heineken-owned Star Pubs and Bars and born and bred locals Nick Johnson and Mark Caldicott who also run the award-winning Bulls Head at Barston.

The redevelopment has seen the outside of what was a tired 1950s pub to ensure it is inkeeping with neighbouring properties and will also enhance Shirley centre.

Among the changes are the creation of a dark charcoal exterior with new cladding, lighting and signs.

Flower baskets, topiary hedges and café style seating on the pavement outside have also been added.

And a little-used concrete courtyard behind the pub is now a stunning 32-seater alfresco space with funky wall art, new furniture, a big screen and a covered all-weather area.

Inside it is much more stylish and contemporary than it was, incorporating leather-covered booths with their own mini TVs.

And a new kitchen has enabled Nick and Mark to introduce more food.

Dishes will focus on street food such as burgers, ribs and wings, and children will have their own menu of traditional favourites. All the meals will be made from scratch using ingredients sourced from nearby farms and suppliers.

Barista quality coffee, other hot drinks and home-made cakes are also on offer.

There are 11 beers on tap at the Lion Sport and Eat, along with a wide selection of premium spirits, wines and cocktails.

Sports enthusiasts have a dedicated games room with its own bar, pool table, darts boards and screens for enjoying live sports.

The pub is also keen to start pool and darts teams and to sponsor local football teams.

Nick and Mark want the new-look venue to be a real community pub and are offering the games room for meetings of local organisations and charities as well as for private functions and celebrations with family and friends.

Nick said: “Shirley is a really vibrant town and we feel incredibly fortunate to have found a pub here.

“We both have a real affection for The Lion having known it all our lives.

“It’s an iconic Shirley institution, and there’s been lots of interest in its future.”

He added the Lion had been left behind other buildings in the middle of town but all that had now changed.

“We want to give it the TLC and investment it needs to be an asset to Shirley once again.

“We’re aiming to provide something for everyone, whether they are after a family lunch, an afternoon coffee or a great night out.”

Star Pubs and Bars area manager Jacqueline Frow said Nick and Mark were fantastic licensees with a great reputation locally.

“They’ve revived The Bulls Head and put it back on the map.

“I’ve every confidence they’ll work the same magic at The Lion.”

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