Sunderland pub popular with Sunderland AFC fans wins award for its cider selection
A pub taken over by one of its regulars is toasting a prestigious accolade.
The Avenue, in Zetland Street, off Roker Avenue, Sunderland, is the first city bar to clinch the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) Cider Pub of the Year regional award.
Judges labelled the boozer as “an excellent example of how to take an ordinary pub and turn it into an extraordinary one by offering customers something different”.
The pub is owned by Dave Graham, from nearby Seaburn, who was a regular at The Avenue before buying it in October 2013 with wife Tracey, 56, after working offshore for around 30 years.
After gradually introducing real ales, the Grahams started to add real ciders as part of regular beer festivals.
Now the pub, popular with football fans attending Sunderland matches at the nearby Stadium of Light, now offers up to 20 ciders served fresh from the cellar.
Mr Graham, also 56, said: “I was shocked when I was first told and it really is an award for all the staff and the customers, who I look upon as my extended family, for their hard work and loyalty.”
The Avenue now qualifies for the contest’s national rounds after beating seven rivals to earn the North-East award.
Other finalists included The Marine, in South Shields, and The Station House, in Durham City.
Asked about their success, Mr Graham said: “It is about giving people what they want.
“I think interest in real ale and cider has increased over the years and people do not just want scotch beer or lager.
“People want to come out and try different things and cider is part of that.”
“Bill Wilkinson, Camra’s regional cider co-ordinator, said: “Apart from the main criteria of selling quality cider or perry, there are other factors taken into consideration, such as service and welcome; atmosphere and sympathy with Camra aims.
“The Avenue is an excellent example of how to take an ordinary pub and turn it into an extraordinary one by offering customers something different.
“To find the selection of real ales and ciders now on offer is a testament to the hard work of pub owner Dave Graham and his team”.