New landlady promises to lead historic South Shields pub The Steamboat to a bright future post-lockdown
Kath Brain, 40, has taken on the tenancy of The Steamboat, at the Mill Dam in South Shields, exactly 20 years after she began there as a barmaid.
She had to put her long-standing plans to take the helm at the start of the year on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And she admits the wait to reopen its doors, which happened in July, had not been a barrel of laughs.
But now lockdown easing has proved just the tonic for Kath and her team – and drinkers have flooded back to the traditionally-styled outlet.
She said: “It’s a great feeling, and a tremendous relief, to be back in business and to welcome back our friendly and loyal customers.
“Closure due to the pandemic put my plans to become licensee on hold, but that has proved to be just a temporary diversion from the real business of running this great pub.
“I’ve worked here for so long that I know the workings of The Steamboat inside out – and I like to think I’m fully in tune with what the lovely clientele want.
“They love their real ales, although of course there’s plenty of other drinks available, and they know they’ll be treated to great quality, whatever their tipple.”
Kath has taken charge of the popular real ale watering hole following the retirement of publican Joe Mooney.
Joe held the reins of the recent multi-winner of the borough’s CAMRA pub of the year competition, for 30 years.
She added: “Joe was an extremely well-known publican and The Steamboat thrived under him.
“But I’ve also been important to its success and to the growth of its reputation for excellent beer and super-friendly atmosphere.
“It’s an historic Grade III listed building, and the customers love the pub’s traditional style. I see no reason to change what is a winning formula.”
With safety screens in place, punters can still enjoy their pint, stood at the bar, and most seating has been retained.
Kath, who served as bar manager of the Punch Taverns inn for 13 years before becoming its tenant, does plan some small changes.
These include introducing tea and coffee, and there will also be a cheese board at certain times.