We’ve been speaking with former England cricketer, Harry Gurney about his intriguing journey from professional sport to hospitality.
After spending many evenings sitting in hotel bars discussing life after cricket, Harry Gurney and current England cricketer Stuart Broad decided to launch The Cat & Wickets Pub Company in 2016.
They first turned their shared passion for wine and good food into a business when they took on The Three Crowns in Wymeswold.
Two years later they were ready for more and opened The Tap & Run in Upper Broughton, which became their model and flagship. Then, as the 5 year lease came to an end at The Three Crowns, the pair decided not to renew as they felt the pub didn’t match their ambition to do things on a larger scale.
The Cat & Wickets Pub Company pay particular attention to the quality of their staff, believing that their guests will remember the warmth of the hospitality they received long after anything else.
“The fact that we have the ability to have a positive impact on the life of our guests makes the industry incredibly rewarding. It might sound dramatic, but we hope that when our guests leave our pubs, they will be in a far better mood than when they arrived. We love nothing more than a big smile on their face as we say farewell.”
Since opening, The Tap & Run has gone on to be accredited with various accolades including being listed in the Sunday Times top 30 best Sunday Roasts in Britain in March 2022. It was also named pub of the year in the Leicestershire tourism and hospitality awards in 2021.
But on 11th June 2022, something unprecedented took place…
In a horrendous accident, The Tap & Run was destroyed by a fire that broke out in the middle of the night. Everything was totally destroyed and the rebuild is still ongoing as we write this article.
Despite this setback, The Cat & Wickets Pub Company still have ambitions to have five gastro pubs around the East Midlands by the end of 2026.
Recently, they have taken a huge step towards this target.
“We have now taken on The Griffin Inn in Swithland as pub number two, and hopefully the Tap will reopen in June this year.”
In detail: The Griffin Inn
The Griffin Inn is an iconic pub in the heart of Charnwood. Bradgate Park and Swithland Reservoir are a stone’s throw away, and it’s an area that is close to Harry’s heart.
“My connection with the area is lifelong. I was born and raised in Loughborough and am therefore very familiar with the area. I have visited The Griffin Inn on many occasions over the years, even playing skittles there on the old skittle alley the night before my eldest brother’s wedding.”
“I played for both Leicestershire CCC and Nottinghamshire CCC throughout my 15 year cricket career and have really never left the area. My wife and I now live a couple of miles from The Griffin Inn.”
“Our kids are at school/nursery in Loughborough and so our ties to the area are strong.”
The Cat & Wickets Pub Company decided to take on The Griffin Inn as they were in the market for a second pub and it ticketed every box on their long list of criteria.
The interior was created by Harry’s wife, Avril and renowned interior designers, Sarum Design. Sarum was started by Sue Salisbury of Lovely Pubs, and they have seven beautiful gastro pubs in the south Birmingham area. They offer inspiration to The Cat & Wickets Pub Company not only in interior design, but also in operations. Prior to launch, Avril worked day and night for two weeks to ensure that the pub opened not only on time, but also looked amazing and was on budget.
“The plan for The Griffin Inn is to create one of the best gastropubs in the area, and we are excited about the potential of the outside space in the summer. We are planning to have two for £12 cocktails and live music on a Friday night, the same as we do at The Tap & Run.”
The Griffin Inn is fast becoming one of the finest pubs in the county, evident in that on just the second Sunday that they were open for business they were forced to cap bookings at 170 covers. So make sure you book ahead of time before checking them out!