French chef and his family add je ne sais quoi as they revive Oxfordshire village pub
A Hawthorn Leisure pub partner who has run more than 40 restaurants across the country is breathing new life into an Oxfordshire village local with help from his family.
Multiple-operator Michel Sadones, who moved from France in the 1970s, took on The Crown of Stadhampton last November, with the intention of revitalising it and returning it to the local community.
Child and dog-friendly, it has already proved hugely popular with villagers, drinkers and diners from further afield, and is to be home to local clubs and sports teams.
Through the family business Crafty Belle, Michel approached award-winning pub company Hawthorn Leisure about taking on the Thame Road pub, and he and his family ran it on temporary basis for eight months, fine-tuning and refreshing it in the process.
Now, following a substantial investment by Hawthorn Leisure, plus a significant contribution from Crafty Belle, The Crown has been refurbished inside and out, and is being run on a five-year tenancy. Work includes redecoration, new lighting and signage, an upgraded bar, and modernised toilets.
A relaunch event will take place on Saturday 13 July, with free food and drink for invited guests, who will be entertained by live bands and DJ.
As well as head of the family Michel, Crafty Belle comprises his sons Jo and Josh, daughters Eloise and Gabrielle, plus group operations manager Annie Cutting.
The Crown is their first pub with Hawthorn Leisure, which has a portfolio of more than 600 pubs across England, Scotland and Wales. Crafty Belle also runs Oxford venues The Old Bookbinders Ale House, and James Street Tavern.
Jo, who handles Crafty Belle’s marketing, said: “My father was interested in taking on a community pub in the countryside, and one that could once again be made an integral part of local people’s lives – which is something that aligns with Hawthorn Leisure’s thinking.
“The atmosphere here is very relaxed, with a pub, bar, bistro feel. The food is French pub food – simple, easy and value for money.
“In our time here, we feel we’ve really become part of the local community, with The Crown once more a thriving hub at the heart of the village. We’ve had lots of positive feedback.”
Outside, a terrace will feature sofas; while the games room is being refreshed, and will feature darts, more board games, and, in future, bar billiards.
Crafty Belle describes itself as ‘an extended family-led group that turns pubs, restaurants and spaces into vibrant and warm destinations that give the local community and travellers all they need. Each venue has its own unique character, and all offer a well-balanced food and drink menu, creative use of environment, and a bustling ambience’.
Hawthorn Leisure managing director of operations Mark McGinty said: “The Crown is a well-loved village local that had sadly declined, and which faced an uncertain future until Michel and his family took it on.
“They’ve worked extremely hard, and in only eight months have achieved a remarkable turnaround of its fortunes. The Crown’s future now looks very bright indeed, and we wish Michel and the team all the very best.”
A pair of young entrepreneurs have added to their growing portfolio after teaming-up with award-winning Hawthorn Leisure to reopen a community pub in the village where one of them was born and brought up.