The Artichoke is owned and run by John Craft and Nicola Howard. It is a real traditional pub that offers customers peace and quiet with no televisions, music or gaming machines. They offer eight real ales and was voted CAMRA's Norfolk pub of the year in 2009. They offer freshly prepared food at both lunchtimes and evenings in the extended dining room. The pub can actually trace its roots back to 1805, when it was built as a house and acquired by the Harleston Brewery as an ale house. In 1995 the pub was sold by Adnams and has been a freehouse since then. John & Nicola took over the running of the pub in 2005.
The refurbishments will see the beer garden landscaped, improvements made to the smoking shelter they bought in after the smoking ban was introduced and general decoration within the pub itself. Their aim is to enhance the facilities but maintain the character and charm of the pub. This new activity builds on their investment last year of extending the dining room which has boosted trade substantially.
NatWest have increased their funding support to John & Nicola to meet the costs of the refurbishment. Previously the bank helped the couple purchase the freehold of the pub.
Speaking about the refurbishment, John Craft said: "Whilst some in the pub trade are finding it tough going, we continue to see opportunities to grow. We have both a growing and loyal customer base and we do benefit from our location with passing trade. Word of mouth and customer recommendations are also very strong for us. The extension to the dining room we added last year has made a real difference to the business and we see this new investment attracting more custom."
Patrick Greaney, relationship manager, business banking at NatWest in Norwich who provided the new funding added: "The pub is very well regarded by the local community who reward this with their custom. This new investment continues to improve the pub and its amenities. It should also make a real difference as we move to the important summer trading season."