Jonathan Quinn, Publican of the popular George and Dragon pub in the seaside town of Ilfracombe has decided to move on from the industry after almost 20 years at the helm.
After taking over the George and Dragon in June 2004, Jon and his wife Linda have firmly put their pub on the map as one of the most popular taverns in Ilfracombe.
A chef by trade, Jon spent his early years cooking his way through Europe before settling in Stockport. After he worked his way up to become Head Chef in a renowned restaurant, he swapped the kitchen for the classroom by teaching Food Technology lessons in the North.
Having spent many summers down in the seaside town, Jon and his family made the decision to relocate from Manchester for good. With hospitality and pubs running through their family veins, Jon took over the helm of the George and Dragon from his sister, Christine.
“I’d always loved coming down to Ilfracombe, it was our family’s special place and every time I was here I’d help out behind the bar,” said Jon. “We were visiting one summer and Christine said she was moving on, that’s when I realised it was time to get back into it.
“I wanted to make it to 20 years, but whilst Summer is great with holiday makers, the winters are getting harder.
“Although I love what I do, I always said when I go, I want to be going on a high. I’m at the top now, and some of the best memories in my life were at this pub.”
Renowned for being a Community Hero, and with multiple awards to prove it, Jon has established a name for himself not only as a fantastic Landlord, but also as an avid fundraiser.
Magnificently, over the last 19 years he has raised an astonishing £187,000 through the pub’s notorious quiz, with the RNLI, Rangers, Guides and Air Ambulance charity just a few of its worthy recipients.
He said: “It started off one Friday evening, we were busy with food, I’d finished serving gone out to the front of the pub and it was empty. There was no one left. I knew I needed to find a way of keeping our guests here and entertained.”
Seizing the opportunity as the only pub quiz in town, The George and Dragon’s quiz fast became legendary, with guests visiting not just from Ilfracombe but also worldwide.
“The popularity was already huge,” Jon continued. “But throughout lockdown we went virtual with it. We were getting 3, 4, sometimes 500 people tuning in. Every week we would raise money for a different cause, and at one time we had a full diary for 19 months!”
The George and Dragon is truly a pub like no other. It’s traditional charm and values that Jon has instilled are the reason it stands out from the rest. Notably, one of its most unique rules is the mobile phone ban, meaning if guests want to take a call, they head outside to do so.
This is something that Jon feels passionate about. Over the last two decades, he has strived to ensure that his pub and its staff are well trained, attentive, and most importantly, treat their guests how they would like to be treated.
“You never know who might be coming through the door,” said Jon. “The industry has changed massively over the years, but standards should never fail. It’s simple. Perseverance. What works for one pub, may not work for yours, but if you think it’s right then do it.”
With hundreds of great memories at the pub, Jon’s decision to leave has been a tough one. But nonetheless he is looking forward to hanging up his landlord title and taking a well-deserved break before embarking on something new.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved here, and I’ll never forget the memories we’ve made,” said Jon. “We’re so grateful to all the kind people who’ve donated over the years and those that have nominated myself and the pub for awards.
“Being out of the pub will certainly take some getting used to but I am looking forward to a total change.”
The George & Dragon has been taken over by Publicans Robert Bennellick and Rosie Beecham, who have already hit the ground running and are excited to see what the future holds for their pub business.