'It's harder than ever': Jarrow Brewery boss Jess McConnell talks about the demands of the pub trade

One of the South Tyneside pub trade’s best-known faces has spoken about the challenges facing the business.

Jess McConnell returns to the pub scene with the take over of The Crown & Anchor
Jess McConnell returns to the pub scene with the take over of The Crown & Anchor

Former Jarrow Brewery boss Jess McConnell has taken over the Crown and Anchor in the town – but is already looking for someone to succeed him.

Jess, who used to perform around South Tyneside as part of The Jarra Lads, said the pub trade was increasingly challenging, with competition from supermarkets and other factors leading people to stay home:“It is harder than ever, because pubs are suffering,” he said.

“We used to have 54 pubs in Jarrow town centre, we’re now down to four.

The interior of the pub

“Just in the last few months, another two pubs have closed in the town centre.

“There are so many reasons why people are staying in – television, Facebook and other social media, people have talked about the impact of the smoking ban.

“There are so many reasons, it is unbelievable, so it is a challenge.”

But Jess still loves the trade and says it is hugely rewarding for the right person. It is personal reasons, rather than the challenges of the job, that have forced him to give up the tenancy.

Jess has promised to offer the new tenant his full backing

“I have had to deal with some fairly serious family health issues, including my son being hospitalised and needing long-term specialist care from myself,” he said.

“I have only run the Crown for a few weeks and quickly realised I cannot be the long-term tenant because of my personal issues.

“But this is the most historic pub in Jarrow and the pub company, Trust Inns, have promised a major refurbishment in January 2020.

“So this is an excellent opportunity for an experienced tenant or somebody new to the trade – they could not have better premises.

The Jarra Lads Terry Joyce and Jess McConnell (right)

“I will be at the pub all day Saturday and Sunday, October 5 and 6, for discussions and an open day for prospective tenants will be held between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Tuesday, October 8.”

Two events will be staged at the pub this weekend, with a Neil Diamond and Elvis tribute evening on Saturday, and a 10-hour trip trough the music of the 20th Century on Sunday.