A pub recovery expert who has helped turn around 35 venues across the country has said The Swallow “has massive potential” as he attempts to turn it around.

Lyndon Stevens took over at the pub late last year after being brought in by the owners. He has previously worked at pubs and bars up and down the UK, where he uses his experience to revive venues that have fallen on hard times.

He said there was a very good chance The Swallow would be successful, saying: “Going on the takings, this pub is at least in the top five I’ve managed, easily. It’s got so much potential. There’s all sorts of things you can do here.”

Lyndon has been working in pubs since the age of 17, and after working in various industries, returned to pubs at the age of 39 when he joined The Red Lion in Skegness. He worked in a variety of roles before gaining his personal license in 2011, when he started being dropped in as the manager at struggling pubs across the country.

Following his first in Somerset, he has since worked at venues from Lincolnshire to Cornwall as he battles to save pubs from closure. Once finished, he moves on, and the pubs then have to stand on their own two feet.

“I’ve been managing for many years,” he said. “I’m just popping round the country, picking them up and tidying them up, so that hopefully they get the lease done and then a tenancy.

“Some close after I leave, some stay open. It’s the way it is at the moment with pub life.”

Following a tough experience at his last pub in Devon, Lyndon had sworn off them.

“I’d just come out of my last pub,” he said, “and then I came back home and thought: ‘I’m not going to do pubs no more’.”

He instead managed five bars at the Fantasy Island theme park in Skegness, but then he got the call to head back into the pub game when he was invited to take over The Swallow.

He arrived in November 2020, and was open for three days before the pub was closed following the second national lockdown. Lyndon took the opportunity to refresh the pub, which he said needed cleaning.

“I needed the scraper,” he said, “a broom weren’t no good to get the muck off the floor. It needed a good hoover and a good wash as well. It was let go, and customers didn’t want to come in.”

Over lockdown, Lyndon and his team have been cleaning up the pub, preparing it for an eventual indoor reopening. He says the work is “nearly there”, with the bar area being reconfigured and additional tables being added as a result.

Since reopening outdoors on April 12, he said old customers have been returning, and has been very popular.

“The regulars are back, and more,” he said. “They haven’t had a drink for a few months and don’t drink as much at the moment but the response has been good. They just want to get over Covid and get back in the pub and play pool and all that malarkey.”

He considered delaying the reopening until May, but decided to push ahead with the April date instead.

“I had a choice, I could have reopened in May when they could come in but you’ve got to try,” said Lyndon. “However, if it’s raining I’ve got to close. It’s not viable to serve one customer who wants to sit in the rain drinking.”

Despite this, he says even with just table service, the takings are up on when the pub was fully open. As a result, he’s looking to the future, with big ambitions for the pub, including a new cocktail menu and plans to use the venue in new ways.

“Now I’ve got the bar cleaned up I’m going to get the function room done,” he said. “There’s a band that’s coming in and practising in there. With the industrial estate behind me, I’m thinking we could hold conferences in the function room, I’m not too keen on 18th’s and 21st’s but we’ll see.”

Lyndon says the pub’s large car park offers the opportunity for regulars to attract coaches, while he’s hoping to maintain The Swallow’s connection with sports teams in town.

“I’m here for a while and I want to make it work,” he said. “Then I hope somebody will take it on. It has massive potential.”