Staff take over well-known Sunderland pub The Victoria Gardens

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The couple met at the well-known local

Popular pub The Victoria Gardens is under new management after being taken over by two staff members.

New owners of the Victoria Gardens, Tim Oliver and Jen Barker.New owners of the Victoria Gardens, Tim Oliver and Jen Barker.
New owners of the Victoria Gardens, Tim Oliver and Jen Barker. | Sunderland Echo

Jen Barker has been bar manager at the Hendon pub for the past five years under the previous owners, with her partner Tim Oliver kitchen manager for the past two-and-a-half years.

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It's a pub which holds many memories for them after they met when they started working together, so when it went on the market they jumped at the chance to take it over.

Both have worked for other publicans for many years, and Jen says it's exciting to finally have their names above the door.

Sunderland Echo

"We really wanted to stay here as we love the pub," she said. "We have a lot of regulars here and the customers have become like family, I often joke that I see them more than my own children.

"As soon as everyone heard we were taking it on they were really pleased that it was people they know."

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The pub, in China Street, has been closed for the past couple of weeks during the handover period, but reopened as a bar from January 25.

Work is ongoing in the kitchen which will reopen in a couple of weeks as TJ's Kitchen and grill, serving pub classics such as burgers and mixed grills.

Jen said: "We'll be keeping the pub as it was: a family friendly local and dog-friendly. It's already a really chilled, comfortable bar so we've just done a repaint and a few improvements. We'll also be focusing more on food for sit in and take away."

The pub is popular with its regularsThe pub is popular with its regulars
The pub is popular with its regulars | Sunderland Echo

The couple have also extended the pub's opening hours, with it now opening from 2pm seven days a week, with a lunch as well as evening food offering.

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"We only reopened for the first time today from 2pm and we already had people in by five past 2," said Jen.

The couple will also be making the most of the outdoor area at the back of the pub during the warmer months, with family-friendly events such as face-painting, a bouncy castle and outdoor barbecue.

They have also kept on the existing staff who Jen says will all be back working once the kitchen is up and running.

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