A POPULAR pub which stood empty has opened once more with a flourish, after its new owners gave it a major refurbishment.

The Black Boy pub at Headington has been taken over by experienced pub and hotel operator Simon Stonehouse, the managing director of Lamb Catering and Events, and his wife Samantha.

As reported in the Mail, the pub closed suddenly earlier this year and was put on the market.

It was snapped up by the couple, who, speaking to the Oxford Mail, said the focus is ‘simple food done well with attentive service in a relaxed environment.’ After an extensive refurbishment project, which included a brand-new kitchen fit out, every inch of the pub was given a new lease of life. The couple have overseen everything - from interiors to the new menu.

Simon said: “My background is pubs through and through and at the beginning of 2019 I started to keep an eye out for pubs that had come on the market. Having been in the pub and restaurant industry for 33 years, I am still so drawn to that feeling of running a busy weekend shift, walking into a pub full of happy, content diners and drinkers.

Oxford Mail:

“I have been really lucky to have run pubs with great reputations, to me there is nothing quite like running a pub that people want to go to because they know they know they’ll be welcomed with open arms and treated to good, honest food with a pint or nice glass of wine.

“I knew of The Black Boy and when it became available, before my wife and I had even set foot in the building we both knew it was perfect for us. We wanted a pub that was close to the city, our home, it had to have rooms, a garden and dining room, it ticked every box.

“We both wanted to inject our own personality into this new project, just like we have done with Lamb Catering, without taking away any of the pub’s original character. When my wife Sam and I we were designing the interiors, we wanted a heavy use of colour which you will see in the wall paper we chose and the colours on the walls with a nod to Oxford, you will see this in our Oxford photography which we have throughout the pub.

"We wanted to make it family friendly, a place that you could go to with your other half for a romantic dinner but also a place that you could have a business lunch, meet a friend for a coffee or come in for a quick bite to eat.

“Our dishes are simple, but packed full of flavour and texture.

“I am from the North East and moved to Oxfordshire when I was 18, when I left school I worked with my Dad in his butchers’ shop as a butcher. Good quality meat is very important to me, all our meat comes from Aldens in Oxford, a great quality butchers which is right on our doorstep.

“Just to give you some flavour, on our starters you will see things like ‘Mezze Board with harissa hummus, tzatziki, grilled artichokes, olives, feta and flat bread’ and ‘Baked whole Camembert with homemade tomato and onion chutney with toasted seeds and olive bread’. We have a ‘Grilled Salmon burger’, just to be a little bit different with smashed avocado, mango and sweet chilli salsa in a brioche bun with wild garlic aioli fries.

"On Sundays, we really go to town with our selection of roasts with our 24- hour marinated half chicken served with pigs in blankets, sausage, sage + onion stuffing and roasted Porchetta stuffed with Chorizo with crispy crackling and a smoked apple sauce as well as beef and a hearty vegetarian option.

"My current favourite pudding must be our baked apple cheesecake, something that my wife had at a party that she so wanted us to put on the menu. That’s a real winner.

“We have been open for a few weeks now and the feedback from regulars that used to visit the pub as well as new faces has been overwhelmingly heart-warming. Sam and I are so excited to bring our unique flair for food and all-round passion for the industry to the pub, each day is different, and we are just delighted with the feedback we’ve received so far. Our whole team have been made to feel so welcome and we are all looking forward to sharing our seasonal menus over the coming months as well as events and new wines and beers”.