Although we live in uncertain times, publicans Liam White and Simon Cant are expanding their business. Liam 30, and Simon 32, have run The Castle Inn, Newport, for the last two years and have just taken over The Vine Inn, St Helens.
The business partners have grown up working in the pub trade since they were in their early teens. They got together professionally when Liam was manager of The Yachtsman, Cowes, and Simon came on board as his assistant. Now they are adding The Vine Inn to their portfolio, with Liam saying: “It was always our game plan to expand and take what we love doing into other pubs.
“With the current situation, you have to be proactive and it will be something to keep us going when there is so much bad news about these days.
“Pubs are closing down and we want to keep the traditional village pubs going. The Vine is similar to The Castle and is the heart of the community. We want to put our own influence on it, so it’s about trying to connect with the locals and give people somewhere decent to go.
“The latest lockdown is a blow, but we were planning to do a refurb anyway so, while we are closed, it will be time well spent.”
It will be an especially busy time for Liam, whose partner Kristine, the sister of Simon’s wife Louise, has just given birth to their daughter Nixie.
Liam added: “We’re lucky to have such close and supportive families who have pitched in and helped us out at The Castle, and they will be involved with us here as well.”
Liam grew up in Newport and went to Carisbrooke High School. He started work with the Character Inn chain at The Bugle, Yarmouth, aged 15 as a waiter and trainee chef.
Over the years he has managed various of their pubs including the Yachtsman, Bugle, Brading, Crown Inn, Shorwell and Crab and Lobster, Bembridge as well as being assistant manager in Yarmouth and covering manager at The Sun Inn, Hulverstone. For a year he was also head chef at The Waterside, Cowes.
Simon, whose family moved from Manchester to the Island when he was three, went to Medina High and, aged 13, attended college to do a catering and hospitality course. He originally wanted to be a chef and got the taste for the industry at Calverts Hotel, Newport, working at a variety of pubs including the Eight Bells, Carisbrooke, Crown Inn, Shorwell, Sun Inn, Hulverstone and Yachtsman.