NEW kitchens, new toilets, new menu and new bar. The Anchor, in High Street, Great Wakering, has been reborn as a family- friendly, foodie and welcoming village pub.

It is the new venture from friends Lee Atherton and Pete Titman, who are more used to being on the drinking side of the bar together than the business side.


“We have been drinking together in the pub for the past few years,” says Lee. “The Anchor came up and we thought you only get one life, you have to try these things.”

Lee is not quite the layman he projects.

In fact, he has 15 years worth of experience behind bars, managing pubs and cooking at various levels.

Those skills are put to good use in the new-look Anchor as owner, bar manager and chef.

“My dad and sister have owned pubs before me, so I picked up a few skills along the way,” he says.

“I’ve just been into it since a young age.

“When me and Pete took it on, it was in dire need of repair.”

In an age where village boozers are considered an endangered species, the pair have the security of a new business model, courtesy of their brewers.

The Punch Franchise Tenancy (PFT) gives new landlords and franchisees a lot of support and a business structure to help them succeed.

It offers legal advice, accountants and business development managers to travel out to the pub on a regular basis to ensure things are ticking over smoothly.

“It’s a bit like the McDonalds franchise model and we can’t make many changes to the bar, because that is theirs,” explains Lee.

“But we can be creative with the food and other things.

“The PFT is absolutely excellent.

They provide essential support.

The same scheme was rolled out in a pub in Shoebury and the money coming in has tripled.”

The lads have also put a heavy slant on food, aware that this is where modern pubs are making their profits.

“You don’t make any money just selling beer in this day and age,” he adds.

“We wanted to stick with the kind of food that people know.

Steak and ale pies, that sort of thing.

“We also have a specials board which lets me play around, throw things together and see what works.”

Lee’s culinary pedigree is well deserved.

He previously owned a cafe in Benfleet, worked for a chefs agency and cooked at Fords in Dagenham.

Previously he has held a post within Essex County Council, helping develop school meal options and optimising the nutrition content of the food.

“That was good, but there is a lot of red tape,” he says.

“I really enjoyed it. But when the Anchor came up, we decided to go for it.

“It is a massive risk, but you have to take a chance.

“If we weren’t in the PFT scheme, that would be a greater risk.”

The Anchor, despite its refurbishment, is still a village pub that will please traditionalists.

Lee, a father of three, hopes they have made it more family friendly and a welcoming environment for all.

He has included an adventure playground in the pub garden to keep the little ones occupied.

“I know, with my kids, we go places that are secure and safe for us all,” he said.

“Somewhere you can feel relaxed and they will not be on your case all the time.

“I think we have achieved that and most people have said it is a lovely pub since we reopened.”

Other new facilities include seven widescreen TVs, Sky Sports, quiz nights, a pool team and the owners are seeking eager members to join the darts team.

For more information, visit