Alternative Pubs is reopening The Hobbit pub in Southampton following a £600k joint investment with Star Pubs and Bars.
The refurbishment has given the pub a “unique fantasy theme” and added one of the “biggest beer gardens” in the city centre. In addition,10 new jobs have been created.
The enlarged garden has seating for 240 plus new furniture, planting and “festoon” lighting. An outside bar – complete with draught beer and cider – and a kitchen with stone pizza ovens will also serve those sitting al fresco.
A new outdoor stage will enable The Hobbit to build on its “reputation for music” and hold festivals and other events such as comedy nights for up to 500 people once restrictions are lifted.
The project has also upgraded the toilets, repainted the outside of The Hobbit and erected a feature entrance. A new menu of food and drink has also been introduced to “complement” the fantasy theme.
The pub group is headed by Jack Andrews and Hanson Leech who also operate The Shooting Star and The Black Phoenix in Southampton.
The duo took the lease on The Hobbit with Star Pubs and Bars in September 2019. They are now “eyeing further expansion” with a view to building up a portfolio of up to 10 leased pubs across other nearby city and town centres.
Andrews, co-founder of Alternative Pubs, said: “Our business model is built on leaseholds. As our money isn’t tied up in freeholds we can expand more rapidly. The risk is also diversified and shared. The pandemic has shown you can’t underestimate the value of that; we’ve really benefited from Star’s rent support.”