Entrepreneurial businessman to take over troubled Longridge pub

White Bull, Alston, Alex Coward - owner, Kelvin Bardsley - manager and'Mark Wilkinson - Head Chef.
White Bull, Alston, Alex Coward - owner, Kelvin Bardsley - manager and'Mark Wilkinson - Head Chef.

Award winning Longridge entrepreneurial chef - restaurateur - publican Alex Coward is all set to expand his successful business into another local pub.

After rumours circulating for many weeks, Alex, 47, who currently runs the White Bull at Alston, has officially confirmed he is now going to take over Longridge’s troubled Alston Arms.

“We are expanding; re-opening the Alston,” said an excited Alex this week. “We believe that the Alston Arms needs to be returned to the community of Longridge. It has been lost to the village somewhat in recent years.

He says he was saddened to see the Alston Arms closed, describing it as “a fantsastic pub in a fantastic location”.

Work to transform the pub back to its traditional style will start any moment and is expected to last six weeks, with the re-opening planned for the first week of June.

“We will take the pub back to its traditional pub roots. It has had a mixed look in recent years and we will be taking it right back to a traditional pub interior and serving traditional pub fayre at a different price mark to the White Bull and offering a different experience to what we do down there.”

Alex is planning on putting a new management team into the Alston, who, he says, have “considerable experience” and hopes to make it appeal to all ages, with “particular emphasis on the exterior area with the beer garden”.

He says the food will be a little bit cheaper than the White Bull, reflected in style of service, etc, but still serving “very good quality traditional pub fayre, all freshly produced”.

There will also be real ales, many of which will be locally sourced.

Alex says the town has been very good to him over the years and he will still have a “hands on role” working alongside his staff at both premises.

“Longridge is very welcoming and full of decent people who have supported everything I have done and helped me when I have needed help. I hope people will continue to see we always give something back,” he said.

Alex will be retaining the White Bull under his “Bowland Leisure Ltd” name and says he will be developing it still further under the management of Kelvin Bardsley and head chef Mark Wilkinson and from where they will still continue to sponsor Grimsargh Cricket Club, adding that at the Alston he also hopes to increase links with Longridge Cricket Club, where he plays.

Alex’s first business venture in Longridge was opening the Michelin award winning Thyme Restaurant. He later took over The Forrest Arms prior to his move to the White Bull.