A landlord became an instant hit with locals at a real ale pub when a licensing cock-up meant he was forced to give away BEER for free on the opening night.
Nigel Barker, 55, was shocked when he opened the doors to his new pub and discovered the council had withdrawn the liquor licence after the previous owner went bust.
But instead of turning away dozens of thirsty punters, he invited them in for a booze-up – on the house.
The revellers, who travelled from across the Midlands to attend the opening night, guzzled a staggering 240 pints – costing Nigel around £600.
Nigel took over The Smithfield in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs., which had closed after the previous landlord went bankrupt.
Unknown to him, the previous owner had allowed his liquor licence to expire which meant when he opened its doors on Wednesday night he could not legally sell alcohol.
Nigel, who has worked in the trade since 1976, said: “We had invited people from all over the Midlands to come and see the opening.
“Despite everything we had a great night – as they say in the trade ‘the show must go on.’
“It was around two hours before the pub was set to open, we went down to the council building to get our manager registered as a supervisor.
“But they said the pub didn’t have a licence because the previous owner went into liquidation and the licence expired, we didn’t have any idea.
“We couldn’t cancel, we had to go ahead with the night, so we just decided to give the booze away for free, we had no choice really.
“In total, we gave away around 30 gallons, which is a lot of anything, especially when it’s free, although lots of people left us donations to say thank you, which was a nice touch on their behalf.
“I suppose in some ways this whole thing could be a blessing in disguise – we may have lost a week’s worth of takings, but it was very enjoyable and everyone will remember the rebirth of the pub.”
The pub is now closed until next Thursday when it will get a temporary licence for Nigel to sell booze.