A village pub that closed over New Year has re-opened, and the new operator already runs a hugely successful pub.
The Russell Arms at Butlers Cross was filled with happy locals over the Easter weekend, who were delighted to discover that James Penlington, who lives and works at The Bell in Stoke Mandeville will now run both pubs.
Mr Penlington moved to The Bell two years ago and has created a very popular community pub with a fabulous reputation.
After learning that the directors and shareholders of The Russell Arms had chosen him to run their village pub he was over the moon.
He said: “I’m very excited. I moved to this area in 2013 and I have come to know it really well and I am bringing my family up here.
“There is plenty of potential at The Russell and for me to have two lovely pubs in such a lovely area, in the foothills of the Chilterns, I feel I am very lucky.”
Mr Penlington will split his time between the pubs, but the general manager of The Russell Arms is Alice Robins who grew up in the village, and the assistant general manager is her boyfriend Tom Allen.
Mr Penlington said: “Alice knows the pub inside out, it’s been a big part of her family’s life, she used to work there and so did her sister.
“It is at the heart of the community and she is very keen to see that carry on and improve.
“It was fantastic to be able to get someone like her who understands the pub and already knows a lot of the customers and has the enthusiasm to drive it forward.
“She and her boyfriend both have experience of the pub world and hospitality.”
Food will be available at the pub from May, when the new chef arrives.
Mr Penlington said: “He likes nice bold flavours, simple British dishes done exceptionally well.
“The Russell is a village, country pub so it can be a little bit higher end.”
Music and quizzes will hopefully become a regular part of the new Russell Arms.
Quiz nights will be tested out at 8.30pm on Wednesday evenings in April and if they prove to be popular they will move permanantly to Sunday or Monday evenings.
Recruitment for front of house and serving staff is ongoing but as there is no landline at The Russell Arms at present, if you are interested call Mr Penlington at The Bell on 01296 612434.