Former Preston bouncer set to open Lostock Hall's only micropub
Lostock Hall people will have plenty to celebrate when the town's only micropub opens.
Ray McLaughlin, of Preston, hopes to welcome people to Lostock Ale before the end of the month. This traditional micropub is located in Hope Terrace in the retail premises previously used as greeting card shop Jane Miller Ltd.
However, it might not open until the New Year due to a planning permission delay.
Ray, who used to work as a bouncer all over Preston, said he wanted to bring something unique to the town's drinking scene.
The 53-year-old added: "Lostock Hall has quite an established drinking area as it has four pubs and three clubs but I'm rather hoping for something a bit different.
"My son suggested opening a micropub here as the town doesn't have one while Bamber Bridge and Leyland both do."
Ray was working as a doorman and a self-employed gas engineer when he first became interested in the pub industry and took a course in running his own venue.
"One night one of the bar managers I worked for asked me if I'd be interesting in running a pub as they said they needed someone they could trust. I said I'd give it a go but couldn't promise anything," he said.
Ray discovered a passion for the industry when he then took on Barney's Piano Bar in Church Street, Preston. But after a year, the pressure of juggling two careers - one as a pub manager and the other as gas engineer - became too much.
"It was like spinning plates - I couldn't split my time between both jobs so I thought, 'Stick to what you know' and I gave up the pub. But I enjoyed it and loved talking to the customers," he said.
But he couldn't give up on his new-found dream and when his son suggested a micropub, Ray began looking for the ideal venue. And when the opportunity to take over the Hope Terrace building came up, he jumped at the chance and enlisted the help of his son and old friend to help transform it.
His aim was to create a relaxing atmosphere with a comfortable setting where people can sit down and talk without any distractions.
"I want to bring people out of their homes. Midweek they might be watching their TVs and thinking there's nowhere to go. But now they can get out of the house, even if it's only for a glass of cola or half a lager," he said.
Ray has decided not to offer music, open mic nights, karaoke or games machines as he wants to offer a traditional drinking setting where the focus is on unwinding and chatting with loved ones.
"It's a community pub so the aim is to help bring people together. The fact that it's a drinking establishment is by and by. It'll have a good atmosphere where people can feel relaxed and enjoy themselves," he said.
The venue will serve a full range of locally sourced drinks, including cask ales, lager, whiskeys, vodka, gin, wine and soft drinks. The vodka and gin are from Brindle Distillery while the range of up to six changing cask ales will include beers from Crankshaft, Beer Brothers, Wily Fox, Moorhouses and Parker's Brewery.
"There are enough breweries near by to bring something to people who appreciate that style of drinking," Ray added.
"I'm not tied to a brewery so I can find a style of beer people like and I have the flexibility to change drinks. If I think the pub's getting tired, I can change it and move on."
Lostock Ale, which doesn't have a theme but whose decor nods towards Preston life, will offer seating for 28 people with bar stools, a bench and a black leather settee. It will have an oak bar with a bespoke bar top while the venue's ceiling is decorated in Lancashire Evening Post newspapers.
And the micropub has already garnered a large following on social media.
Commenting on the warm reception, Ray added: "I've had positive feedback from people walking past.
"Someone brought us clippings about the Lostock Hall Guild Cup Winners in 1956 while another person gave us a mirror reading Preston North End, The Lilywhites.
"And one gentleman brought us a bottle of champagne as a gesture of goodwill and said he's really excited for the pub to open."
For more details, search for Lostock Ale on Facebook.