This week's pub offers what Tripadvisor claims is the best ‘bar/pub’ experience in the area, and the Salford-born owner says he’s committed to good food that’s locally sourced.

Paul Fox - former commis chef at the award-winning Three Fishes in Mitton - began running the Crafty Fox in Abbey Street, Accrington, in 2021.

Here he chats through his story in taking over the bar and what makes it one of the county's best places to visit

What made you want to take over the bar?

We built the premises in lockdown; we made it all from scratch.  It was a derelict property and we just decided to do it up. 

I’d done food at other pubs, but they had to get rid because of Covid. So, I just walked down Abbey Street one day, saw the property in the state it was and bought it.

What industry background did you have?

Previously I had a club in Accrington called Attic, I’ve been a chef at various places like the Three Fishes (Mitton), I’ve worked all over. 

I originally got into being a chef after doing well on an ITV cooking competition, I can’t remember what it was called, but I just wanted a change from owning a club; I didn’t become a chef until I was 40.

Food’s just my thing and I was passionate about wanting to own my own place.

What sets the Crafty Fox apart from other places?

Well, we’re number one rated on Tripadvisor across Lancashire. 

What makes us stand out is the service, it’s one-to-one, all our staff are great it’s a really relaxed vibe like a bar in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.

Lancashire Telegraph: A ploughman's platter served at the Crafty FoxA ploughman's platter served at the Crafty Fox (Image: The Crafty Fox)

But again, basically everything we cook is fresh from scratch, our fish is delivered daily and we’re known for our pies. 

We do a steak pie and a cheese and onion pie, which are both handmade. 

We’re about fresh food, made daily, whether it’s southern fried chicken, a steak, or a burger, it’s all cooked on the day, there aren’t many places outside of the Ribble Valley that do that.

Do you source locally?

A big thing about our place is that all our suppliers are local businesses, within seven to ten miles. 

We got our meat from Clayton-Le-Moors, our veg from the Ribble Valley, our seafood supplier is based in Burnley. All our employees are local as well. 

I wanted to create a micro-economy and regenerate this part of Accrington.

What are your best drinks?

We have 10 draft beers on at the minute, a couple of IPAs, and premium lagers. We do Estrella Galicia which is the proper version from Spain. 

We also do Aspall Cyder and a German pilsner, so it’s not run-of-the-mill stuff.

Lancashire Telegraph:

What about pricing?

We’re not cheap, because we source everything locally. 

We’re in the £13 - £22 bracket, we do a special lamb dish which is expensive, we’re not your Wetherspoons or that type of place because we serve fresh food. 

What challenges are you facing?

If you look at places like Manchester, places are shutting like the clappers, but we’re in a position where we own our premises, so we don’t have the financial burden on that end. 

All our staff are paid more than the living wage, we do have some struggles though: the VAT rate at the moment is something you’ll hear a lot of businesses complaining about, and the energy crisis - although it’s starting to get better – is still a big issue.

Lancashire Telegraph: The Fox's showpiece mural depicting Accrington with figures in pop cultureThe Fox's showpiece mural depicting Accrington with figures in pop culture (Image: The Crafty Fox)

What’s the best thing about running a pub?

I love Accrington, and I love the people, I’ve lived here for 30 years now. 

I love coming to work and meeting people every day, people come to the bar, and we talk politics, people love coming in to have a chat. You can talk about anything in our place. 

I’m a people person and most importantly I love working with my staff.

Finally, what does the future hold?

Lots, we’re soon to sign for next door, and hopefully we’ll be able to take over the other side too. I want to expand to a bed and breakfast as well. 

In the very near future, they’ll be a bar next door to us doing a very different type of food, which will be revealed soon. 

Basically, we’re regenerating a part of Accrington that’s been derelict for 20 years plus we’ve got a deli down the street, The Hungry Fox, that reopens in June, so it’s exciting times.

What do punters think?

The Crafty Fox has a rating of 5.0 on Tripadvisor.

One user said: “Was not disappointed, great food, great place, nice vibe, good service, will 100 per cent be going back the food was bang on.”

Another happy customer was left wondering: “Why haven’t I been here before,” after their visit.

The Fox’s renowned steak pie is front and centre of praise, “Best steak pie ever, it was delicious, enjoyed every mouthful, I will be back.”

The Crafty Fox, in Abbey Street, Accrington, is open seven days a week from 12pm.