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We are Shaun Gardner and Jimmy Little and we own and manage The Sally.
We bought the pub in 2016 and our intention was to create a warm and friendly place with high quality products and services that would be welcoming to everyone. We think we’ve achieved this – we hope that you’ll agree. We are committed to ensuring that all our guests and customers have an enjoyable experience and we love what we do. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile to create a fantastic atmosphere for everyone who comes our way. Whether you’re staying with us on a relaxing break or simply passing through for a thirst-quenching drink, you’ll be greeted with the same enthusiasm and treated with the same excellent customer care.
Between us we’ve worked all over the UK in various hospitality roles and we previously ran The Brewery House in West Cumbria.
When we saw that The Sally was on the market, we jumped at the chance to take on a new project. It seemed like a wonderful challenge and somewhere we could make a real difference, creating something from all our passion and experience. When we took over the pub it had been derelict for several years. Irthington is a beautiful little village on the outskirts of Carlisle. Like so many rural villages, many of its amenities and facilities had slowly been closing down and there was nowhere for people to meet. There was no community hub where people could come together and socialise – no place for them to celebrate or commiserate life’s ups and downs. When we were mapping out our plans for the pub, we knew that this had to stay central to our vision. We didn’t want to come in and create a place where residents didn’t feel welcome.
We wanted to build a facility that was inviting and welcoming to everyone – whether you live in the village, just passing through whilst on a walk, or bringing a party of guests to celebrate a special occasion.
As we developed the initial plans, and as we have continued to develop the business over the last few years, we made sure that there was plenty of choice, so people can opt to use different areas of the building, depending on their mood or situation. We now have a contemporary bar area towards the back of the building where people can relax and have an informal drink and play traditional pub games.
The interior has been specially designed with modern contemporary, almost industrial touches, but with nods to the rural heritage and historical background. Our fully stocked bar has plenty of choice and we work with local suppliers to ensure we have a good range of beers, ales, wines and soft drinks.
We also have a great relationship with our local customers who keep our feet firmly on the ground with feedback, suggestions, requests and recommendations.
About our Building
Towards the front of the building we have a spacious dining area. We provide meals throughout the day including breakfasts, lunches and evening meals. We serve a range of delicious and irresistible traditional and European dishes, freshly prepared in-house by Lynette, our head chef, and her experienced team. We work with local suppliers wherever possible and it is vital to us that we always provide high quality. Whether it’s a quick pre-flight breakfast, a light lunch for a hiker or a group of 45 people celebrating a family occasion, we treat every interaction the same – we want you to enjoy it. Keen foodies ourselves, we are always on the lookout for new ingredients, dishes, flavours or ways to present. Jimmy has had a long career in the food industry and has worked all over the UK and he brings all that experience to his role at The Sally. He has handpicked a team to work with him, and together they create the menus, of which we are incredibly proud.
As a team, we have a combined experience of many decades and we pour all this into maintaining and improving our visitor experience at The Sally. Staff development is central to our vision and our small team have access to training opportunities so that we can stay up to date with all the latest industry developments.
We are always on the lookout for ways to improve our service to customers and opportunities to diversify the business. As a result we decided to expand our premises and add 5 new bedrooms, enabling us to provide accommodation. Both keen travellers ourselves we really appreciate the importance of the little touches that hotels and B&Bs provide. We wanted to create something that gave our guests all the mod cons of a contemporary hotel service but with the personal touch and individuality that can only be provided in an independent business. We have drawn on our own experiences, talked to potential customers and guests, worked with local suppliers and poured all our findings in to our new accommodation provision.
We want our guests to feel that The Sally is a ‘home from home’ but with more relaxation and none of the responsibility! We have designed the rooms to have top class facilities and worked with local partners to provide additional touches – for instance, the beds are from a local company and if you’ve had a fantastic night’s sleep, you can order the same mattress to be delivered direct to your home. We have free wi-fi and commercial grade TVs have been fitted as standard, so you can even access your own Netflix account by logging on with your own credentials.
We’ve worked alongside a local interior designer to give each room its own personality, influenced by the surrounding area and even the blinds have been chosen so that you can have the windows open, but keep the native midges out!
Having first worked as a pot washer here at the age of 12, this has been a kind of homecoming for Jimmy. His mum and dad still live in the village so after working all over the country, he is delighted to be back in the place he grew up and we are both proud that the pub has regained its place at the heart of the community. Having such strong links to the local area means we can provide recommendations for ways to spend your time while you’re with us – and if we don’t know something, we’ll probably know someone who does! We’ve spend lots of time exploring the countryside with our dogs Cassie and Storm and have created some great little trails that take in the surrounding scenery and points o