Jonny back at the re-opened Derby

Jonny Parkinson was a catering student when he got his first bar experience at the Derby Arms in Thornley close to where he grew up in Longridge.

So he and his family – who still live minutes from the pub - joined the saddened villagers when the pub closed last year.

But now he’s back on his old stamping ground … as general manager of the re-born pub that has become the sixth site to be relaunched by Lancashire’s fast-growing Seafood Pub Company.

Jonny, 28, got his first part-time job at the Derby Arms a decade ago while studying hospitality and catering at Preston College. He worked the bar, waited on tables and, after college, became assistant manager.

Three years ago he joined the Seafood Pub Company. Since then he has been the launch manager of their award-winning Assheton Arms in Downham and is currently running the Oyster & Otter on the outskirts of Blackburn.

From there he was “gutted” to see the Derby Arms close. “Everybody felt the same,” he says, “because the customers were so loyal. Everybody knew each other and many of them would sit in the same seats every time.

“It was one of those picturesque places where people went just for the atmosphere. I loved working there. It’s where I started learning and nobody was more devastated than me when it closed. It will be strange to go back - but an exciting dream job because it will be very different when the Seafood Pub Company stamp goes on it.”

The Derby Arms is the fifth pub to join the Seafood Pub Company portfolio in little more than three years – with the sixth site, the Barley Mow in the Pendle village of Barley, opening September.

The contemporary Thornley village pub and destination restaurant, redesigned using traditional oak, flags, slate and steel, has a central bar leading into three dining areas, two with feature fireplaces, an atmospheric tap room for bar games, an outside courtyard and six bedrooms.

“There’s been a big buzz about the Derby,” says Joycelyn Neve, founder and managing director of the Seafood Pub Company, “and the opportunity for Jonny to return to where it all started for him was just too good to resist.

“It was once one of the best pubs in the area – and it will be again. People can expect our usual trademarks because the Derby will be a destination seafood restaurant with signature dishes made from the best British and local produce. And it will also become a vibrant village pub again … this time with bedrooms too – which is a ‘first’ for us.”

The Seafood Pub Company began in 2011 with the Oyster & Otter in Blackburn. The following year Joycelyn took the lease of the Assheton Arms in the Pendle conservation village of Downham – which has become a multi-award-winning flagship and currently holds both the Lancashire and Ribble Valley ‘best tourist pub’ titles.

Last year the company branched north to the Fenwick at Claughton, near Lancaster, on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, and west to open the Farmers Arms at Great Eccleston on the Fylde. In September the Barley Mow, four miles from the Assheton Arms, becomes the first site to adopt slightly different characteristics as a country pub that does food, rather than a destination gastro pub – a new identity that will be developed within the future growth of the Seafood Pub Company portfolio.

Enjoyed this? Read more from The Seafood Pub Company

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