This week's pub of the week is an Accrington boozer with high-tech beer pumps and fish and chip deal that rivals Wetherspoons.

A husband-and-wife couple are priding themselves upon “the perfect pint” and a homely atmosphere, after taking over an Accrington pub this February.

Vanessa and Jamie Wolfenden – who run the Whitakers Arms in Burnley Road – decided to leave their previous jobs, instead giving pint pulling and serving snacks a go – along with offering some tempting food deals.

Can you introduce yourself?

“I’m Vanessa Wolfenden, and I run the Whitakers Arms with my husband Jamie.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Jamie and Vanessa WolfendenJamie and Vanessa Wolfenden (Image: NQ staff)

What made you want to take over the pub?

“So many different reasons, when we first started looking for a pub we looked everywhere.

"We went to York, Newcastle, Stockton, Harrogate, it was about finding the right place for us. 

"This place became available and when we came here, Jamie looked at me and he said 'Yeah, this is home,' and it has become home.

“I also think we both wanted a change and wanted to do something together, we like being in a pub environment.  What’s important for us, is that we offer to everybody what we use to expect when going to a pub.”

Did you have any experience of running pubs before?

“No, not at all, neither of us have.  I’m originally from financial services and I’m a sports physio; I had my own business for 12 years. 

"Jamie is from construction, so he did that from a young age, managed his own business and had a lot of lads working for him.  So, what we’ve got are transferrable skills.”

Lancashire Telegraph: The darts area in the pubThe darts area in the pub (Image: NQ Staff)

What sets you apart from other pubs?

“All our staff go through quite rigorous training; before we opened they went through a five-day training process centred all around: customer service skills, food, cocktails, but most importantly how to pour the perfect pint and how that’s achieved.

"You’ve got to pour it at a 45-degree angle and put on the head at the end.  To a lot of people, they’re looking at it and going 'oh my pint is being poured flat!' But actually, it’s the way we do it: it’s the perfect pint.”

As a Star Pub, the hostelry employs Heineken’s SmartDispense technology, which the couple claim enhances the taste of their draft beer selection, by delivering a “perfectly chilled” pint.

What pub-goers do you suit best?

“Walkers, cyclists, families; we’re dog-friendly, they’re allowed anywhere in the pub except the carpeted area. We’ve got plans to let motorhomes come onto the car park and do all-nighters using the facilities we’ve got here.

“We get groups of women, groups of lads coming before the football, we target all areas of the community.”

Lancashire Telegraph: The seating area for dinersThe seating area for diners (Image: NQ staff)

How about the food – cheap and cheerful or gourmet posh nosh?

“It’s not cheap pub grub! It’s good pub grub; it’s wholesome; we’ve got a good, balanced menu; we do some good offers and we’ve got some good people cooking it as well. 

"A lady commented today: 'That fish and chips looks amazing!' It’s about the way it’s presented as well, it’s served on a piece of mock newspaper. 

"When you think, fish and chips are actually quite expensive to buy now, but here, you can have your fish and chips, with a pint, and have some good company.”

Deals offered:

  • Fish and Chip Friday: £10.50 for fish, chips and peas (mushy or garden), with a glass of wine or pint of beer.
  • Monday to Thursday, you can have selected meals at an offer of two for £15.50.
  • Thursday to Saturday, 5pm to 8pm, when you buy two large glasses of wine, you get the bottle for free.
  • For shots, you can buy four for the price of three.

Lancashire Telegraph: Good pub grub at reasonable pricesGood pub grub at reasonable prices (Image: NQ staff)

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

"The community! Absolutely, we’ve made a lot of friends here.  We feel the community has really welcomed us and it’s turned into such a hub, it’s got a real vibe and energy. 

"Does that make it different to anywhere else, only the people who come in can answer that?"

What do the customers think?

Claire Toman, a regular at the pub, said: “Vanessa and Jamie are creating a great community pub. Bringing it back to life with good food and drink offers, Sky Sports, and bingo and quiz nights. 

“The atmosphere is lovely and it’s great to see it bustling again, there’s always a welcoming face behind the bar.”

Another punter added: “It’s more homely than other pubs in Accrington, that’s for sure.”

A family tucking into a mid-week lunch in the beer garden praised the food as “fantastic”, while another complimented the building’s interior.

Vanessa and Jamie still only have less than three months of experience behind the bar, but the pair insist they learn something new every day as they look forward to their first summer as publicans.