DEVASTATED staff have been left homeless and jobless after a village pub was forced to close its doors.
Huxley residents are still in shock at the quick sale of The Farmers’ Arms, which Chester-based landlords Admiral Taverns were driven to sell due to the building’s increasing maintenance costs.
The award-winning pub and its restaurant Stuart’s Table, which has been trading for more than 10 years, was put on the market mid-April and sold in July.
Staff were told to cease trading and vacate the premises by August 28, leaving them without jobs and some even without anywhere to live.
Restaurant manager Sarah Medcalfe said: “The pub needed constant repairs and the latest I think was the catalyst for Admiral Taverns.
“They just couldn’t keep paying for all the maintenance costs so they had to sell, and though we were initially told we could stay as long as we liked, now because of the new owner’s contract we were told we had to leave by August 28.
“We’ve been furiously hunting for new premises but don’t want to go with another pub company after what’s happened so are looking for a private landlord to invest in a pub and restaurant, which may not be easy.
“For some of the staff the pub was their home and now they are having to live on my sofa until they find somewhere.
“We all work really hard as a team and believe we have the magic formula, that’s why we’ve said we are going to stick together but we may end up being forced apart.”
The closure of the pub has stunned the community.
Jeremy Marks, treasurer of Huxley Parish Council, said: “It is a real shame and has come as a big shock to everyone because of the short notice of it all.
“It just happened so suddenly. One minute we were talking about the possibility of the village getting funding together to potentially buy it, the next it had been sold.
“The pub was wonderful for the whole village, it was the hub where everybody met and socialised.”
A spokesperson for Admiral Taverns said: “From time to time we review our pub estate and on occasion sell pubs that no longer fit our criteria for ownership.
“The Farmer’s Arms was such a pub and its sale was discussed at length with Stuart Turner, the licensee, who was given the opportunity to purchase the pub before it went for sale on the open market.
“Having agreed a sale we are keen to continue working with Stuart and continue to explore other opportunities that exist for him within our pub estate.”
The pub’s new owner, local resident Daniel Lee, was unavailable for comment as The Chronicle went to press.