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A year down the Crown: First Christmas

In part two of our series looking at a pub’s first year in business, we focus on the festive season… and football

With 15 weeks of trading under their belts, Craig Williams and Jodie Cattell are heading towards their first Christmas at The Crown in Chinnor, Oxfordshire.

As Craig explains, things are looking promising for their first festive season behind the bar.

“I love Christmas anyway, and we have gone all out and really turned the pub into a Santa’s grotto,” he says.

“We’ve had our first party and we have more than 20 others booked in the run up to Christmas.

“We will only open for drinks for a couple of hours on Christmas Day, it will be manic with everyone in. After that we will enjoy some family time together and take a deep breath. It has been quite a big lifestyle change to adapt to, but actually living and working at the pub means we have probably seen more of our two children than we did previously.”

Ahead of taking on the pub, Jodie was a long-term employee at the Crown, while Craig worked as a PE teacher.

With a packed sporting calendar over December, the pair are also making sure that sports fans do not miss out.

The sports bar they created shortly after taking on the Star Pubs & Bars business, is now coming into its own.

Craig continues: “We have added more memorabilia and retro football shirts, so it is really coming along.

“There are football matches on every night in December so we expect to be busy. We believe we are the only pub in the village to have an Amazon Premier League Pass, which will give people even more reason to come here.

Even though we have been here for 15 weeks now, we are still seeing new people coming into the business for the first time. Having the sports bar means we can cater for the sports fans and have the Christmas parties in the restaurant.

Guests have been finding the pub through word of mouth and by the social media activity that Craig has worked hard on.

However, the Christmas season will not be without it’s challenges. Supply issues that are impacting the entire sector could create an unwanted headache.

“We have been trying to stock up over the last few weeks because we are aware that this could be an issue. If we don’t have any beer in the pub then we are going to have a problem!”

And a pub with no beer is a sure fire way to put a dampener on any Christmas.


  • Over the course of the next 12 months we will be regularly visiting Craig and Jodie to see how they fare with a number of challenges including marketing, social media, getting the menu right, staffing, and planning for and delivering major sporting events at the pub.


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