A CHANCE invite led an ex-factory manager into a career running pubs and, 25 years later, he hasn't looked back.
Charlie Kyriacou has looked after the White Hart pub, in Church Road, Northolt, since April 2008, transforming it from a run-down watering hole to a place where people enjoy visiting.
But it could all have been different if it wasn't for his football hobby when he used to live in Islington a quarter of a century ago.
The 52-year-old said: “I was in the rag trade. I had a factory that used to make women's clothing for brands like Wallis, Principles and Dorothy Perkins. I played football with a group of guys and, to cut a long story short, they used to be models and they bought trendy bars.
"I was talking to one guy and I said I wasn't doing too good, he said 'ever thought about trying the pub game?' I said I'd give it a go and stuck with it ever since.”
Mr Kyriacou said he quickly found he liked the job and has done so ever since. He added: “I enjoy the trade, meeting different people and the sense of achievement you get. When you take a pub like this one which was run down and then people come and tell you what a wonderful job you've done. We brought in leather chairs, varnished the floor and did a lot of work, people are really pleased and it's very satisfying to hear that.
“On the other hand it can be a struggle in this trade now, because of the brewery prices, alcohol being sold cheaply in chain stores, it tends to keep people out of the pubs. But at 52 there isn't really anything else I really know.”
Mr Kyriacou pays rent to Fuller's brewery but runs the pub as if it was his own. He added: “I have a lot of freedom as a leaseholder rather than just a manager. Otherwise we would be obliged to do what they said, if they didn't want music then we couldn't play it, even things like leaflets and posters would have to be a set standard. Here we have kareoke, cocktails, live music, we do a multitude of things.”
He took over the pub, which he runs with his girlfriend Shelley Stonehouse, after running a bar in Enfield for 15 years.
The owners of the Enfield pub put it up for sale and the chance to run the watering hole on the White Hart Roundabout, again came about through a friend.
He added: “The building itself had potential but it was also that it was on a roundabout with a lot of passing traffic and a lot of chimney pots around. I saw a lot of potential so thought I'd give it a bash.”