AN INDEPENDENT Cowley Road pub that prides itself on being a relaxed space for locals and students is celebrating a top hygiene rating.

Big Society, which has out-lasted the prime ministership of David Cameron who popularised the term, was opened six years ago by Matthew Davies and Tim Fitz-Gibbon ,who also run Raoul’s Cocktail Bar, in Jericho, and the Victoria, in Walton Street.

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When inspectors from Oxford City Council's health team visited last month they gave the business the highest score of five stars.

It was a return to form for the business, which had dropped down a star during its last inspection after a previous run of top ratings.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Fitz-Gibbon, who is head of operations, said: “It was bad luck last time, our boiler broke the day of the inspection. Now we are back at five stars where we should be."

He said the Grade II listed pub, which serves a menu of American-style burgers, barbecue wings, and fried chicken until 10pm, was committed to making food fresh everyday.

He added: "It's important having the rating for that pride for the chefs and for all the staff to know you are putting out something good for customers. People are also really aware of a restaurant or bar's hygiene rating these days and its the first thing many people look for.

See more recent food hygiene ratings from across Oxfordshire

"Little things can catch you out, and sometimes part of it is luck like us with the boiler, but I don't think anything under four stars is acceptable."

A popular pub with locals and students, Mr Fitz-Gibbon said the idea behind the business was to replicate an East London trend for relaxed 'hang out' spaces that could be altered to suit the event, from meals to dancing.

He added: "We host pop-up shops for businesses on Saturdays and Sunday which are completely free. It's a lot more common now but we were one of the first to start doing it and would encourage more people to get in touch with us about it."

Oxford Mail:

The business owner said it was similarly important for the community to support local pubs and restaurants, saying: "If people want places like ours, which is completely Oxford-focused, to do well we need them to keep coming.

"Cowley Road has become a lot more of a destination area in recent years with lots of great indepedent businesses."

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The building, on the corner of Cowley Road and Jeune Street, previously housed Lan Kwai Fong restaurant until it was taken over by the pair in 2012 - officially opening in February 2013. The historic building was formerly home to the Elm Tree pub for around 100 years.