Driffield News

Bob calls last orders on his time at the Spread Eagle

Driffield is to lose one of its most well-known landlords at the end of March.

Bob Palmer, who has been at the helm of the Spread Eagle on Exchange Street for close to 10 years will call last orders on Sunday 20th March before starting a new project in Bridlington around a fortnight later

And owners of the pub Kevin Tate and David Watts have decided that it would be virtually impossible to replace Bob and will close the doors of the pub and ‘let someone else have a go’.

I’ll be very sad to go. I’ve had a massive customer base, many of who I have become proper friends with, and I can’t thank everyone enough, particularly the sports teams.

BOB palmer

It was back in October 2009 when Bob arrived in Driffield as the temporary landlord of the now-closed Rose & Crown.

His initial six-month stay turned into three years, during which he transformed the pub from a struggling boozer into one of Driffield’s busiest.

After the ownership of the Rose & Crown decided it wanted to install a tenant, Bob was heading for Derbyshire when he took a phone call from David.

Kevin and David were hoping to buy the Spread Eagle at auction and needed someone to run it for them, with Bob’s popularity during his time at the Rose & Crown making him the perfect candidate.

Bob agreed and produced another success to transform the fortunes of the pub.

But, all good things must come to an end and having received an offer he can’t refuse, Bob will take over the running of the Moon Tap, previously the Half Moon, in Bridlington from April.

He told the Wolds Weekly that having taken some time to consider his position, several factors meant it was the right time to go.

“I had an approach from a very good project in Bridlington around a month ago,” said Bob.

“It took a lot of thinking about and I went away to London recently to have a trip away and make a decision.

“I came back and decided to give it a go. COVID has had a massive effect on the hospitality industry, plus, I’m not getting any younger and I need more time for myself.

“At the Spread Eagle, I do a lot of hours behind the bar, all the cleaning and all the cooking for the sports teams. During winter, that’s seven days a week.

“It’s a lovely new project, a real ale house that also concentrates on rum, whiskey and gin.

“It’s the last roll of the dice for me and it was always going to take something special to take me away from Driffield.”

Before coming to Driffield, Bob had been at the helm of pubs in his native London, West and East Yorkshire, as well as being employed in a range of other job roles from Smithfield Market to the Stock Exchange.

But he seemed to find a home from home in Driffield, where he has met people that will be his friends for life.

“When I came to the Rose & Crown, I couldn’t understand how a pub on the main road was so quiet on a Friday teatime,” said Bob.

“I gave it a go, it was hard, but I made it work. I had no staff at the start, but rather than moan at me, the customers helped me behind the bar.

“Within eight months, the place quadrupled in turnover and the next three years were brilliant until the owners put the pub out for tenancy, which I wasn’t interested in.

“I was on my way to Derbyshire to run a pub in Belper when Dave Watts called me to ask if I would run the Spread Eagle, should he and Kevin Tate be successful in buying it.

“I agreed, as I was happy to stay in Driffield. Seventy-five per cent of the trade from the Rose & Crown followed me to the Spread Eagle, and others came back.

“It was happy days and the first four years were fantastic. Things levelled off but in a good way because we managed to attract an awful lot of pub sport teams – football, dominoes, darts, pool and, four years ago, Driffield Hockey Club.

“Everything was good and then the dreaded COVID came along and changed it all.

“Running a pub is different and people are more cautious. I also think the way the economy is going could see customers stay away.”

Before he goes, Bob paid tribute to Kevin and Dave, who he has worked alongside seamlessly for the last decade or so.

He said he’s hoping for a memorable farewell with customers, friends and family when the time comes for him to say goodbye.

“I’ll be very sad to go,” said Bob. “I’ve had a massive customer base, many of who I have become proper friends with, and I can’t thank everyone enough, particularly the sports teams.

“We’ve had some great nights, still do, and hopefully will have one or two more on 19th and 20th March, before the pub eventually closes its doors.

“Kevin and Dave have been honest and don’t think the pub will be viable any more.

“The three of us have had good times – Kevin and Dave transformed the pub – and have largely left me to it.”

Spread Eagle Driffield – Closure

Kevin told the Wolds Weekly that he received an emotional phone call from Bob last week, informing of his intention to leave the pub for pastures new.

And, although he said many customers will be naturally disappointed, it’s the right time to for all three to say ‘bon voyage’.

“Bob sent myself and Dave a text message on Tuesday (15th February), letting us know he was calling it a day at the Spread after nine years,” said Kevin.

“When I spoke to him, he sounded pretty choked up about it, I know it was a big decision for him, but with his reasons of wanting to have some more time to himself, and spend more time with his family as he reaches his ‘twilight years’, his words by the way.

“You can’t be selfish and think of your own needs, you need to listen to the man, respect and support his decision.

“He’s been nothing short of first class for us and we’ve enjoyed working with him, it’s not always been easy, the last couple of years have been tough with COVID, but overall, it’s been nothing other than a success story and we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together.

“We won’t look to replace him, you can’t really, can you? He’s the best in the business and if he’s not at the helm, then myself and Dave will bow out too, let someone else have a go.

“It was our venture together, the three of us and it’s come to an end, all good things do eventually.

“I know there will be a lot of disappointed people, as the pub is a big part of the community and we have a lot of customers and teams that have supported us over the years, darts, pool, dominoes, football, rugby, hockey, and I’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you to all of them, we have really appreciated it, it means a lot to us.

“As it stands, we’ll be closing the doors on Sunday 20th March, so make sure you pop in before and say ‘bon voyage’ to Bob, a fantastic guy, who is starting a new chapter in his life.”

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