Tony bets on thirst for real ale as he buys his own pub

Tony Brearey, who is opening The Ale House.
Tony Brearey, who is opening The Ale House.

AFTER making a living for several years through online gambling, Sheffield real ale enthusiast Tony Brearey believes he has a sound bet in opening his own pub.

He aims to open the Ale House in Fraser Road, between Millhouses and Woodseats, next Tuesday after refurbishing what used to be called The Sheaf.

It will be a “labour of love”, said Tony, who wants to create a suburban community pub, offering a range of real ales and no fruit machines, TVs or other electronic attractions with the exception of an old juke box playing vinyl singles from the 50s, 60s and 70s, with a disproportionate number of Beatles tracks to reflect his own musical tastes.

“I made a living for six or seven years through gambling, and this investment has largely resulted from my ventures, so it’s largely a risk-free bet from my point of view,” he said.

Tony bought the Sheaf from Admiral Taverns and is spending £40,000 on the refurbishment.

An accountant by profession, he has had some experience of the pub trade, taking over The Industry in Darnall for three years from 2001, but that was a different type of operation, he said.

Tony, aged 59, added: “I am nearing retirement age and, after a few different ventures, this is the one I am realy looking forward to. It was that or twiddling my thumbs at home, so I thought I’d give it a go.

“I spend most of my leisure time wandering around the Kelham Island pubs and thought I might as well do this myself.

“I want it to be an entirely different type of place, a real ale pub in the suburbs.”

He will be working most days at the pub, and plans to appoint a chef for the new kitchen about six weeks after the opening. Manager is Tom Harrington, who has previously worked in Sheffield real ale pubs.

The premises closed last June and Tony, who lives with his wife in Banner Cross, praises family and friends for the way they have helped to knock the building back into shape, including the installation of a new bar. “I couldn’t have done it without their strong support.”

At a time when many suburban pubs are closing, he hopes to appeal to real ale drinkers who are looking for choice and value for money. He will start with seven real ales, many from local breweries, three ‘exotic’ lagers and two ciders. Prices will be from £2.20 a pint.

“Although I obviously want to generate an income, my prime motive is to be part of the community. I’m hoping to bring the community together. We’ll be having different types of nights, such as wine tasting, and I have got an old-fashioned tombola machine at home. I would take great joy from people saying they have had a pleasant night here. I’m hoping it will become a community pub.”

His aspirations are about to be put to the test.

“I’m too old to be nervous, but I shall be having a pint of Sgt pepper stout before we start. I’m really looking forward to it. It should be fun.”