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Star Inn scoops Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year
A MUM-OF-FOUR who had no experience of running a pub until a year ago has won the Oxfordshire Restaurant of the Year award.
Interior designer Caron Williams bought the Star Inn in the village of Sparsholt, near Wantage, from Punch Taverns last summer.
She knew nothing about the business, but with the help of a former chef from Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir restaurant at Great Milton, she turned its fortunes around.
The Star at Sparsholt is one of 11 restaurants honoured in this year’s awards, including a garden centre and a university cafeteria.
Mrs Williams said: “It was a big shock. You never think you will win it. I bought our local pub to save it because it was very run down.
“Punch Taverns ran it and they just had a caretaker landlord in there, it was open a couple of days a week.
“I knew nothing about being a pub landlord, but it is a small village and my house is here.”
The pub was first awarded the Gastropub of the Year title, and was also named the overall winner.
Burford Garden Centre won the best express/deli/café of the year award and Oxford Brookes Restaurant took the prize for outstanding service.
Reg’s Cafe in Banbury won the public vote, and the James Figg in Thame was named the Best Traditional Pub.
Pub manager Frazer Sutherland said: “We are completely bowled over by this win, which is a real boost for everyone who works at The James Figg. When we first took it on in 2009, a time when many other pubs were closing, many people said we were mad to be doing it.
“Now, four years and a great deal of hard work later, it’s really great to know people still appreciate the proper pub.
“Having that recognised, as well as all the effort we’ve put into making the pub what it is today, is really heart-warming.”
The awards are sponsored by In Oxford magazine.