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Village spirit in the heart of Gloucester thanks to 'uncompromising' landlord at The Pelican Inn

By CitizenNews  |  Posted: September 05, 2014

Pelican Inn landlord Michael Hall

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WHEN Michael Hall took over The Pelican he wanted to mould the pub in his own image.

Over the past two and a half years he has managed to turn around the reputation of the once-troubled The Pelican into a village pub in the middle of the city.

He has reformed the St Mary’s Street boozer in his own identity by turning it in to a traditional pub with a warm welcoming atmosphere.

To that end, Michael,35, has installed a ‘no swearing’ policy, keeps the music volume at a sociable level and has made real ale at the heart of The Pelican.

Michael, who has worked in pubs since he was 18, said: “I wanted the pub to be a reflection of me, so I had to be tough and uncompromising at the beginning.

“I want The Pelican to be welcoming to everyone and for the pub to be a place where people can relax, read the paper and talk to each other.

“If you don’t control your environment straight away it could bring back elements of the old pub you don’t want. I live with my family upstairs and my daughter is four years old. I want to create a good environment for them too.

“The customers have been really supportive and they endorse what we’re trying to do. We want to target specifically the right kind of people.”

The Pelican solely offers locally-sourced real ale and cider, and doesn’t stock lager or offer food.

It won Gloucester CAMRA pub of the year last year and is expected to be included in the organisation’s ‘Good Beer Guide’ for 2015.

The award was a proud moment for Michael, who has been a CAMRA member since he was a teenager.

He said: “I’ve always loved real ales because it’s such a fantastic product. There’s a great variety as well and there’s an ale for everyone.

“What we want to do at The Pelican is give people the chance to try something new, especially if they haven’t tried real ales before.

“The Gloucester Beer Festival has really helped businesses like ours to grow. More and more people want real ales now and people like to see local produce.”

The Pelican looks every inch the village pub in the middle of a city, with a traditional, rustic interior complete with a fireplace, three bars and an outdoor area for the summer.

“It’s a bit of a throwback, but it echoes who I am,” said Michael. “It’s definitely out of the way from the city centre and people have to make a special journey, but the pub does really well.

“Over the past two years we have done better than we could have ever imagined.”

Since The Pelican’s re-opening it has become a regular stop-off point for cyclists in Gloucester and a hit with the rugby crowd whenever there are matches at the nearby Kingsholm Stadium.

“On rugby days it gets really busy and the garden is packed out which creates a great atmosphere,” said Michael.

“We also get quite a few away fans coming in and there’s always a great atmosphere. There’s never any grief with rugby fans.”

Michael’s career in the pub trade began in Quedgeley and he has been running pubs since 2001, having previously been a landlord in Leominster and Ross.

He said his passion for real ales and love of meeting with people are why he has stayed in the trade for all this time.

“It’s getting better for pubs now,” he said. “There is much more optimism in the trade now and people seem more willing to come out and spend money.

“But they are more thoughtful as to how they spend their money now, and they are looking for local produce.

“We’re getting busier and busier very steadily, so we must be doing something right.”

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