A pub is set for a grand reopening tomorrow under new ownership.

The Chequers in Corn Street in Witney will reopen its doors at midday (April 25) under the direction of new owner Stephen Williams.

Mr Williams previously ran Brets Burgers which opened at Marriotts Walk in February 2021 offering a range of burgers, steaks and cocktails.

Mr Williams said: "We’ll have some of the Brets Burgers – gourmet burgers and pulled pork - but with a smaller simplified menu."

Witney Gazette: The Chequers in Witney

Brets started out in Oxford in the late 70s and early 80s on the Cowley Road and later Park End Street and built a reputation for serving the best burgers in Oxford, and even 'on the planet'.

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Brets Burgers' Witney branch relocated to smaller premises in Wesley Walk in July 2022.

Mr Williams said the restaurant at Marriotts Walk had become 'unsustainable'.

"We did not really fail, we were taking a huge amount of money," he said, "but it just did not cover the rent and service charge.

"The rates were £1,000 a week and the service charge on top was £24,000 a year.

"We had lots of customers but the final straw was when the gas bill went up to £5,000 a month. 

"It was annoying because we had something that the people of Witney wanted. You don’t take that amount of money if that's not the case, but I don’t work for nothing and it became a fruitless exercise."

Mr Williams said Wesley Walk was an interim measure and "it wasn’t for me and I sold it quite quickly".

The Red Lion most recently traded as Red Lion Smokehouse run by Witney schoolmates Sam Halsey, Maverick Ogden and his wife Sian.

They opened the Chequers Smokehouse - which was a second branch of the Oxford Blue Smokehouse - further down Corn Street 10 years ago.

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After Covid they moved  to the Red Lion and renamed the business the Red Lion Smokehouse in 2020.

But the trio, who also own Burgers and Brews in Carterton, were forced to hand in their notice to the landlord in January due to the increase in food and general business costs.

Now it's full steam ahead for Mr Williams, who has worked at Brets in Oxford and in various Witney hospitality venues.

He is getting ready for tomorrow's opening although the 17th Century building is presenting some challenges.

"Hopefully it'll be a success," he said. "Without the cost of Marriotts Walk."