Leading Devon gastropub shuts its doors

One of Devon’s best-known gastropubs, The Swan in Bampton, has closed down in the face of escalating costs and the burden of debt left over from the pandemic.

Landlord Paul Berry and his wife Donna, who have run The Swan for 13 years, will now concentrate on their efforts on the restaurant Spelt, also in Bampton.

The Swan has been regular in the Harden’s guide and is described this year as a “great gastropub – not to be missed when in Devon”. It has won other accolades, including AA Inn of the Year.

Explain their decision to close the doors at the end of last week, Paul said: “We never made a huge amount of money because we are always reasonably competitive and keen on our prices. I just got to the point where I thought I just can’t keep going the fun had gone out of it for me.

He admitted he felt a sense of failure even though the financial pressures were out of his hands –  and a measure of guilt as custodian of a pub now lost to the village. Donna shared these feelings, although she was relieved in a way because “it was going to end up probably killing me“.

Paul had one final message for those in power: “I don’t think it will ever happen, but if the government brought VAT down to European levels for the industry, that would be a massive boost and that would have made a difference to us.”

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