Leeds pub is a family affair

WHEN Emma Witter decided she wanted to run her own pub, she never thought it would become a family affair – or that she would end up as her own parents' boss!

But now, after taking over as landlady at the Highwood in Moortown, she has recruited her whole clan to help her pull pints – and hopefully pull in the crowds again too.

Emma is confident the pub will regain its former glory in the local community.

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The traditional tavern was hitting the headlines for altogether different reasons two years ago when former landlord David Williams barricaded himself into the building for a month in a row over 8,000 he claimed he was owed by the chain's bosses.

Mr Williams took advantage of squatters' rights and refused to budge, holing himself up in the taproom with his pet Staffordshire bull terrier.

The pub was eventually boarded up and left empty, but now the taps are flowing again.

Emma is giving the business a whole new lease of life, and she is hoping to re-invigorate the local community at the same time.

The 28-year-old, who re-opened the doors to the Highwood this month, will be doing it with the help of dad Kevin Witter, 52, mum Bev, 49 and sister Sarah Berisha, 30.

In fact, the pub's turnaround has become a tale of TWO

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Armley supermarket boss Tony Roda – who runs the west Leeds suburb's Nisa store – owns the building with his family, and the Witters are running the pub for them.

Emma, who lives upstairs with her three children, said: "I always wanted my own pub to run, and I have known Tony for about seven years, so it's great to be running it for him.

"I have brought my whole family in and I live upstairs.

"I just asked my dad if he wanted to come and work for me. He has run pubs and clubs all his life. Then my sister and mum came on board."

Emma knows there are risks involved, with the pub trade recently seeing a steady decline, but she is determined to make this 'local' live up to that tag, and for the right reasons.

"It's just in the middle of the estate and we are getting to know the locals already," Emma said.

"The friendly environment is the best thing.

"People used to say it was rough, but it's not any more.

"Everybody's welcome."

Miss Witter said that despite so many pubs closing down in recent years they are still "very important" parts of the community.

And the Highwood, she believes, should be at the heart of its estate again in every sense.

"It's somewhere for people to meet up with their friends," she said. "And it's somewhere they can go throughout the day to get away from their nagging wives. And if they ARE the wife, their nagging husbands!"

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