Craig and Stacey Wright, operators of pubs in the North East, have expanded their portfolio by acquiring a third establishment, The Big Jug on Claypath in Durham. Collaborating with Star Pubs & Bars, they are embarking on a significant £400,000 renovation of the pub.
The pub is set to reopen in mid-March, just in time for Easter, with the investment leading to the creation of 10 new jobs.
Craig and Stacey already manage the highly regarded and popular City in Durham city center, another pub leased from Star Pubs & Bars, along with The Green in Billy Row Crook, a freehold site situated 20 minutes west of Durham city.
Their vision for The Big Jug entails crafting a top-quality local establishment with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere, aiming to appeal to locals, students, and visitors alike.
Live music will be a prominent highlight, with various acts including bands and an open mic night scheduled two to four times a week. Additionally, the pub will showcase live sports events daily and provide grab-and-go style food options such as pizzas, paninis, and sharing boards.
The thoughtful renovation of the Grade 2 pub will expand its seating capacity from 37 to 69. Alongside new décor and updated fixtures and fittings, a dedicated live performance area will be established, restroom facilities will be upgraded, and the upstairs function room and bar will undergo redecoration. Furthermore, the addition of four new TVs will allow sports to be viewed throughout the pub, including in the function room.
Energy efficiency enhancements will encompass various measures, including the addition of insulation and motion-sensor lighting. Advanced technology will be implemented to automatically switch off drinks fridges when no movement is detected behind the bar and to deactivate cellar cooling equipment when the ambient temperature is sufficiently low. Furthermore, the installation of a Smart Dispense system, which is 20% more energy efficient than standard dispense systems, will contribute to the pub's sustainability efforts.
The exterior of the pub will undergo a transformation, featuring redecoration, new signage, and upgraded lighting. A new seating area for 16 people will be added to the rear, complete with festoon lighting and artificial planting, enhancing the pub's ambiance and appeal.
Craig says: “There aren’t many places in Durham that host regular live music. Our other pub, The City, is one of the few other places. The upstairs function room with its own private bar is also a rarity in Durham. As well as giving customers a reason to come out, it’s important that pubs continue to nurture grass roots music.
“We are fortunate that Durham attracts people from all over the world – students and tourists. The pubs we run have broad appeal, with something for everyone. They have loyalty schemes for regulars and discounts for students. Our existing pubs are performing really well – the village pub sells around 600 covers a week and The City sold 77,000 pints in 2023. Both pubs are decorated to a high standard, offering customers great surroundings and top-quality food and drink. When I first started out working in pubs 18 years ago people wanted regular drinks; now it is premium products that are selling.”
Star Pubs & Bars Business Development Manager, Lance Green says: “Craig and Stacey are experienced and successful pub operators with a detailed knowledge of the Durham market. They have has turned around their other two pubs and will do the same with The Big Jug. We’re delighted to be investing with Craig and Stacey. The Big Jug needed the right people to take it on, which it now has. I wish Craig and Stacey success with their latest venture.”