DRINKERS soaked up the sun in the beer garden of a transformed East Oxford pub once feared destined for closure.

James Street Tavern reopened yesterday following a month-long major makeover.

The occasion was marked on Saturday night with an official relaunch party, complete with live music from band Rio Brass followed by a vintage club night from Hipshakin’ that kept revellers dancing until the early hours.

See another Oxford pub back after a revamp

The Oxford Times:

Manager Josh Mullett-Sadones said: “It was a fantastic night and we've had great support."

He added the James Street Tavern team had been speaking to the local community to make sure it was a place that 'works for everybody'.

It marks a transformation in fortunes for the pub, which dates back to the 19th century. There were fears last year the building, off Cowley Road, could close for good after local business owners and residents reported ‘sporadic’ hours which saw the pub sometimes shut long after its 4pm opening time and often not opening at all.

Owner Greene King confirmed in December, however, that the Sadones family team behind the Old Bookbinders in Jericho, which they have been running since 2011, would be taking over the pub and a ‘significant investment’ was planned by the pub chain in the new year.

The new landlord is Michel Sadones, with the business now run with his sons Josh and Jo.

Renovation works got underway in March and included a major overhaul of the pub’s garden – taking down a timber structure in the beer garden and installing a new wooden shelter, as well as adding artificial grass.

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The Oxford Times:

This is aimed at providing an ‘alfresco experience’ with other improvements to the beer garden and outside of the pub including new outdoor lighting and removing old storage.

Inside, the flooring has been sanded and lightly stained as well as improvements to the bar area and a complete redecoration throughout.

Mr Mullett-Sadones said: "We opened up the inside because it was a little dark and will be serving French street food, so escargot and crepes.

"As far as we know we are the only ones in East Oxford doing this kind of thing."

A document submitted with the original planning application said the proposals were designed to offer "an altogether safer and more enjoyable experience for all people visiting the pub, particularly people local to the area."

The Oxford Times:

A heritage statement added the works would be ‘respectful of the heritage of the site’ but that the upgrades were designed to ‘encourage new and existing customers’.

It added that, as well as trying to bring more residents from residential streets surrounding the James Street Tavern, it hoped to become a ‘destination pub’.

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The Oxford Times:

Since the change in management in December, the East Oxford pub has a new website and an increased presence on social media.

Regular comedy nights are set to return to the venue on Thursday, as well as monthly club nights.

To keep up to date with the latest search the pub’s name on Facebook.