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Air Balloon landlord not worried about the future despite plans to demolish Birdlip pub to solve A417 missing link

By Michael_Yong  |  Posted: March 10, 2014

Joe Venton

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New landlord at The Air Balloon Joe Venton is not worried about the future of the pub - despite a campaign which could see it demolished.

Joe, 27, took over the pub, which is just yards from the notoriously dangerous A417 roundabout, in January.

Businesses and councils across Gloucestershire have united to call for a new dual carriageway bypass running between the Cowley roundabout and Brockworth.

Known as the Brown Route, the £255 million scheme would divert motorists away from Nettleton Bottom and away from the roundabout.

If successful, the proposal could see the Air Balloon demolished to make way.

But Joe, who has nearly a decade of experience in the industry and took over from Paul and April Wallis at the pub, is laid back about the situation.

He said: “I know a little bit about the drama that is going on, and potentially, that it [the pub] is in plans to be taken out.

“I’m here to do a job and serve people coming through the pub.

“I try not to look too far into the future.

“I am not worried about it, and it is not a case of ‘this is it’ for me.

“I am not too concerned about it and I am here to do a job and it is what I will do as long as this place is open.”

For now, Joe is just focusing on making the pub as nice as possible to draw in more customers.

Since he took over, it has been given a Kitchen of Excellence award by parent company Greene King.

New TV sets will also be brought into the pub to broadcast sports events.

He has changed the pub to part table service, with aims to provide a full table service soon.

“The key for me is customer service,” he said.

“It can get unpredictable, so we might not always be able to provide a part table service, but that is the aim.

“Since we have been here it has been really good.

“The team have responded really well.

“This is a high-volume site, and what I’m used to.

“It is a nice little place and I am really enjoying it.

“There are a lot of people who come in when they go past here.

“The location is ideal, it’s only 10 minutes from Cheltenham and Gloucester.

“It’s a nice place to be, and we can potentially grow the business.”

The Air Balloon is part of the Old English Inns portfolio owned by Suffolk-based brewer and pub-owner Greene King.

The Ait Balloon will be open early this week and serving breakfast for visitors coming to Cheltenham for race week.

Open from 8am, the pub will also have additional parking spaces for coaches.

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