How the Closed Shop pub closed - and opened again

Andy Stephens outside the newly reopened Closed Shop pub
Andy Stephens outside the newly reopened Closed Shop pub

IT seems that nobody is quite sure how the Closed Shop pub in Commonside got its name.

One suggestion is that it used to be a grocer’s with beer to take away before it concentrated solely on drink.

Then there’s a theory that it resulted from a withdrawn beer licence. Or there could be a trade union connection ...

But the Closed Shop definitely closed for a few weeks and looked like becoming another name on the roll call of pubs that were loved and lost, until Andy Stephens and business partner Chris Halse had other ideas.

Now it is hoped a new era is dawning, built on real ale, much of it from local breweries, food from local suppliers and plenty of community spirit.

Andy has been running the Rutland Arms in Brown Street in Sheffield city centre for two-and-a-half years.

“We took it over when it was boarded up and had been shut for a while. It was a pub with a great history and background. The Closed Shop seemed similar. It’s a great pub in a great area and it was another pub that needed a little love.”

Andy and Chris have the pub on a lease from Punch Taverns, leaving Joe Gibbs to run The Rutland, voted Pub of the Month by local members of the Campaign for Real Ale.

Andy, who came to Sheffield six years ago to manage the Wig and Pen in Campo Lane, said: “We are starting to put in a good kitchen and we have a big beer garden, which we are sprucing up. A lot of it is about winning back the locals. It’s been quiet for a couple of weeks, but we are now getting to know people and it’s picking up. It’s a lovely pub to be in, and there’s a buzz when people are in. We had an acoustic music night and all the seats were taken.

“Pubs are closing and you have to get it right. It’s hard work and the margin between success and failure is slim, but I fundamentally believe that the pub is at the heart of the community and you have to move with the times. Putting in food will be a part of that.”

Last night (Wednesday) a Ploughman’s Night was being held with the Urban Pantry in Crookes. “There are quite a lot of great independent businesses around here, like Urban Pantry and Beanie’s, and they have made us feel really welcome.”

Two more hand pumps are being added to take the total to eight, including beer from Blue Beer Brewery, in which Andy is part-owner.

Camra members hold a ‘Walkley Walkabout’ on April 26, starting at the Cobden View in Crookes, calling at the recently refurbished Hallamshire House, which is across the road from the Closed Shop, then the Closed Shop, the Springvale and The Blake.