TWO friends had the previous owner’s 26-year legacy to live up to when they took charge of a Simonstone pub. 

Ezme Longton and Elizabeth Whalley took over the Stork Hotel, Whalley Road, in December. 

After ditching her nine-to-five job, Ezme decided to join her new business partner and says she has loved every minute since.

Lancashire Telegraph: Ezme Longton

Can you introduce yourself?

My name is Ezme and I run the Stork Hotel in Simonstone with my friend Elizabeth.

What made you want to run a pub together?

Liz has always had her eye on running a pub, she’s done hospitality before. I’ve always worked in a nine-to-five sort of office environment, but I’d worked in bars before and really enjoyed it. When I’d worked with Liz previously we’d just had the most fun; we had such a laugh together.  She floated the idea past me of whether I wanted to join her at the pub and I said yes. 

Lancashire Telegraph: Elizabeth Whalley

How did you take on the previous owners’ legacy?

It was quite daunting, but rather than just trying to follow on from the previous owners we’re trying to make the pub our own. It’s the only pub in the village, so we need to be here for the community and be somewhere people can come to get a drink and get nice food. There’s people that haven’t been in this pub for 20 years but they are coming back in now, it’s getting busier and busier and it’s just nice to see.

Is the food cheap and cheerful pub grub or gourmet posh nosh?

I’d say somewhere in between, we’re not fine dining. We’re serving regular pub food, but we’ve got a little bit of a reputation now of it being more elevated; we’re really keen on using fresh and local produce, we’re big on the presentation of the food and making it look fantastic.  Simply put, it’s good quality ingredients prepared well that taste good.

What off the menu would you recommend?

For a long time it was cheese pie, but I think ‘Fish and Chip Friday’ (two fish and chip meals for £22) is the one at the minute. People can’t get enough of it round here, we literally sell-out every Friday.

What sort of pub-goers do you suit best?

Somebody who wants to come into somewhere with the feel of a local pub, eat nice food at reasonable prices and just feel comfortable.

What’s your most popular drink?

I’d say a lager, probably Cruzcampo at the minute.  Although the cask ales are really popular, a lot of people do say that the cask ales are some of the nicest in the area, especially the Thwaites Original.

How are you dealing with the industry’s challenges?

To be quite honest, we’re doing really well and I think it’s because we’re the only pub in the area. If you don’t get it right, people will vote with their feet and just not come back.  I think we’ve done everything well, people are just returning week upon week and we haven’t really got any competition so it’s a winning combination.

What would you say to other women who are thinking of running a pub?

My message would be don’t let being a woman hold you back, just because it could be considered daunting; Liz and I are two very strong characters we’re not the kind of people who would be thrown by comments of ‘two women can’t do it’ or what have you.  It’s not that kind of village though we’ve just had nothing but fantastic support from the locals.

Finally, what’s the best thing about running a pub?

The best thing is working with each other 100%. We just laugh all day long and we get to see the locals who come in and get to support us.  We have such great banter over the bar, getting to chat to people is the icing on the cake.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Stork Hotel in Simonstone

The pub does have a beer garden, but typical Lancashire weather has meant it hasn’t seen much use since the pair have taken over.

Family fun events and live outdoor music are some of the plans on the horizon at the Stork Hotel, with Liz and Ezme hoping to remain a local favourite.