New English-style Pub Restaurant Raises the Bar for British Cuisine

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Lion and Rose sets to open 24 new franchise locations in next 24 months.

We also feature curry dishes since Indian cuisine is standard fare in many British restaurants.

Some are already calling it the next British invasion, and according to Allen Tharp, owner of The Lion and Rose, it couldn’t happen soon enough. With his second English-style pub restaurant opening this week, and eight more in the planning stages, Tharp is meeting a growing communal need to gather, mingle and converse in old world style.

“The irony of technology is that the more we connect electronically, the less we connect personally,” states Tharp. “So by re-creating an authentic old world pub and dining experience, we’re meeting that very human need to belong. The Lion and Rose is the type of place where you can socialize in comfortable surroundings and feel immediately at ease.”

Despite the seemingly fast ramp up, The Lion and Rose concept was five years in the making. “My wife Elena and I have always enjoyed traveling and many times we would stop and visit genuine British pubs and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with sharing a cold pint. But we never could find that same ambiance stateside. So we set out, not just to re-create the experience, but to improve it.”

This idea set in motion dozens of trips to English pubs and eateries dotted throughout Great Britain, with the goal of gleaning the best of each experience and incorporating it into the Lion and Rose concept. From the suit of armor at the door, to the plush back, sofa-like seating, to the etched glass and judge’s paneling, the surroundings create a sense of old world warmth and hospitality.

The research didn’t stop at the décor alone however. “A major part of our focus was on the food itself,” Tharp continued. Countering the bland image of English fare, Tharp enlisted top chefs, test kitchens and countless taste panels to capture the best the island nation had to offer. The varied menu features everything from the ever-popular fish ‘n chips and Shepherds pie to ham ‘n haddie, (haddock topped with cheese, ham and onion gravy.) “We also feature curry dishes since Indian cuisine is standard fare in many British restaurants.” The Lion and Rose Restaurant and Pub also offers American and regional favorites as well, including tenderized, juicy steaks and seafood; along with homemade soups and sandwiches. The made-fresh garden salads are also popular choices.

And since no genuine pub would be complete without it, each seat comes with a view of a plasma screen TV, for those die-hard soccer, cricket and rugby fans. “We have our share of ex-patriots who can be a bit vocal during a good match, but that adds all the more to the experience.” Tharp is quick to add that local preferences do sometimes give way to NBA and NFL games among other top sporting events. Whether seated at the massive wooden bar or huddled tableside, many avid fans will spend a good portion of an afternoon in their home away from home.

“We’ve done our best to accommodate all our customers,” Tharp said. That extended to offering WiFi wireless access to laptop-toting professionals. This recipe for combining the look, feel, tastes and sounds of old England is scoring points with more than just sports fans and business professionals. “The day we opened our first store in San Antonio, we were slammed,” said Tharp. “Above all, I think we’re providing a sense of ownership to our customers. They feel welcomed here and appreciated and they come to view this place as their own.” And if Tharp has his way, that’s one old world tradition that’s back to stay.

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