GOOD Symes have come to Hollywater as a village pub has opened for the first time in four years.
Graham and Emma Symes are the toast of the community as they reopened the doors to the Royal Oak last weekend.
The pub renowned for its live music has cast a sorry sight in recent years having been closed all decade aside from a two-week spell.
But that all changed just after 5pm on Sunday, November 19, when new the landlords brought beers and cheers to a very thirsty community.
“There’s a real localised clientele here and we’ve welcomed back people who have been coming here for forty-plus years,” said Mr Symes.
“It’s been smiling faces that the place is back open. I think a lot of people thought it was going to be left to ruin.”
Graham – who has a reputation for turning around struggling pubs after reviving the fortunes of watering holes in Guildford and Waterlooville – has no plans to give the Royal Oak a lavish gastropub makeover.
He describes it as a “pub pub” with the focus on good beer, live music, chat and company. A pool team looks set to return to the Liphook league while classic pub food and Sunday roasts could soon be on the menu.
He said: “Would I change this place into a gastropub? Over my dead body. We’re not going to change this pub.
“You meet so many characters in a place like this. I will never make myself a millionaire but you will meet the broadest spectrum of people here and that’s worth a lot.”
The Royal Oak revival capped off a great November for pub fans in East Hampshire as three reopened within a fortnight after lengthy closures.
The White Horse – also known as The Pub With No Name – in Priors Dean and The Temple Inn in Liss Forest opened in the two weeks before the Hollywater hostelry returned to the drinking fold.