Petty much. Just that. The central tenet of my statement is already clear, but there are subtleties to reveal, and details to unmask.
The Closed Shop used to be quite good. It stood opposite venerable establishment the Hallamshire House, run for approximately 125 years by Les, with its unfailingly traditional, down to earth "pubinness", atmosphere, charm and interesting internal features made it a worthy competitor for the custom of locals. The Closed Shop was a Tetley House with a different cientele, it seemed.
Whilst I always used to feel like I was welcome in the Hallamshire, the Closed Shop may as well have been called the Closed world.
I ventured in the 'shop whilst Les was still at the helm of the Hallamshire and was annoyed by grumpy arsed service from behind the bar. An admirable choice of beers was available, possibly better than the Hallamshire, including a fantastic pale ale from the Darley Brewery. But the arsey mein host stuck in my craw, and the next time I visited a few years later the pub was standing at the top of a slippery slope. With an admirable and valiant lass behind the bar trying to run a pub single handedly with two week old Taylors, insufficient stock, and training. Then it closed.
Am not sure when; it was certainly closed at the end of January and possibly at New Year. Now its got a new lease of life.
Mr Stevens, from the Death Star Canteen sketch (also the Rutland, for lovers of facts) has taken it on. I won't venture to say bought because they seem to still have the "hilarious" idiosyncrasies of pub vampires Punch's lease to deal with. But hey, its trading again. So much easier to visit.
It reopened 17.00 yesterday 20th February, and had a decent if by Rutland standards tame line up of beers. To be fair to Andy, and his co-conspirator who may be called Chris, its really not fair to compare the two. The Rutland is a freehouse. The Closed Shop is not. Its likely that he has simply bought or signed up to run the premises and buy the stock from Punch. Tribute to which is that they only have one guest pump of choice at the mo.
Beer range was Tetley Dark Mild, Castle Rock Pale Ale, Kelham Easy Rider, Leeds Pale, Adnams Broadside, Black Sheep and guest ale Acorn Old Moor Porter. The Tetley was surprisingly ace, and , since I hadn't managed to find it in Leeds (although, is that surprising now?) was a welcome return tasting for me. £2.40 a pint and the ideal starter or session beer. I had two so that's virtually a session. And, for added irony, a Leeds Pale. I went to 2 of their breweries pubs and had none of the beer in Leeds....
Decor wise it seems little changed. A man repaired the Jukebox, Paultous used his teenage powers of optimistic youth to blow a light bulb, people played Pool, Brewer Rich and the Author K E Page drank beer, and me, Wee Keefy and Jambon sat in a bay window which may as well have been open - it was chuffin perishing...
Still, its going to be closed again in 8 weeks to receive a proper refurbishment and a kitchen, after which there will be 4 guest ale pumps. Assumedly Punch insist you have to spend thousands of pounds of your own money to secure more freedom of ale choice.....
It will be interesting, say 3 months down the line, to see how this development affects the Hallamshire House. The man of Ash keeps a fine pint but it aint arf expensive in the Thornbridge Boozer. They aren't going to start serving food, so it seems inevitable there will be an effect. Mr Ash had a quite optimistic outlook, and not without a modicum of merit. If Commonside (extending to the Blake, which it doesn't, but in terms of real ale pubs may as well) has potentially 4 pubs with a maximum 21 real ales on, that can only be good for the local beer scene. I think he may be right - now there's even more reason to travel to the area.
Finally, talking of which, after half an excellent Leeds Pale, I headed over the road to the Hallamshire and to my unbridled delight discovered Thornbridge Imperial Oatmeal Stout on draught - on cask. Oh. My. God. I told Wee Keefy and Jambon at once.
Despite the price (eek! Can't even bear to admit to it...) I had 2 halves of the monstrously easy to drink mega stout. Probably the best cask of the year bar none, but also the most night shortening. Luckily my former colleague Ian from the ARBS was in to direct me to a much needed chippy, before I popped down to the University Arms for half of Titanic Mild (very nice) and finally two halves of Saltaire, Pacific Red (or similar!) and South Island Pale, and a chat with a guy called Bleddyn, who was a man of science, and a thoroughly decent chap.
I wish the Closed Shop all the very best and look forward to many nights sat in there, preferably once double glazed, supping decently priced ale, and, without promising, possibly using it as the starting point of a brilliant new Commonside Crawl.