Star Pubs & Bars and Thirsty Bear Group have completed work on a £500,000 refurbishment of the Wynford Arms in central Reading, re-opening this week after a two year closure.
The site is the first for Thirsty Bear with partners Vince Healy, managing director of Ascot Inns, and New Yorker Michael Wheeler who is an experienced pizza restaurateur.
Work at the Wynford Arms has doubled the pub’s trading area, transforming the traditional pub interior with a contemporary look and subtle American influence. Downstairs the space has been opened up to make a light airy bar with an open plan pizza kitchen and dessert and barista coffee stations. Upstairs, disused accommodation has been converted into a stylish lounge with comfortable seating and a roof garden created on a flat roof extension with seating for 45 people.
Thirsty Bear’s offer has an American theme and authentic New York style pizza is central to the menu using secret tomato sauce topping and recipes before cooking in a £20,000 pizza oven imported from America to ensure a crispy thin crust.
Award-winning pizza chef Fabio Ferrarini has trained Thirsty Bear’s chefs and kitchen staff and other American dishes include American favourites such as Mississippi Mud Pie and New York style cheesecake. Drinks are American focused with beers such as Lagunitas, 30 specially sourced bourbons and 10 American gins.
Lawson Mountsteven’s Star Pubs & Bars managing director said: “Vince has many years experience in the hospitality sector and looks set for success; the pizza recipe is second to none and Thirsty Bear will bring a distinctive and individual concept unlike any other in the town to Reading.”
The pair are looking for further well-located town centre sites with a minimum capacity of 100 covers and external seating in the southern, western and northern home counties in order to expand the concept. They will consider 15-year plus tied and free of tie leases as well as freeholds.