Ipswich: Landlord of gay pub The Grinning Rat pleads for common sense

James Iannone, landlord at The Grinning Rat pub in Ipswich

James Iannone, landlord at The Grinning Rat pub in Ipswich - Credit: Archant

The landlord of “Ipswich’s only gay pub” controversially asked to leave just months after taking over has called for “common sense” to prevail in an emotional plea.

James Iannone says he has “transformed” the Grinning Rat in St Helen’s Street, Ipswich into a “thriving gay-friendly community pub” after signing a Tenancy at Will contract with tenants Punch Tavern in January.

But on Monday he spoke of his anger after claiming Punch Tavern gave him a week’s notice to move out without explanation.

That was meant to be yesterday but the 37-year-old, who lives at the pub, has been granted an extra seven days to leave, until May 29.

But Mr Iannone, who claims he has still not received the request in writing and has been struggling to speak to Punch Tavern, last night said: “Common sense needs to prevail. They need to come to their senses and let me stay. We are Ipswich’s only gay pub and the town needs a gay pub. We are appealing their decision.”

Around 400 people have signed an online petition in support of Mr Iannone.

Jane Scott, social secretary for the Ipswich and East Suffolk branch of Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), said: “It is distressing to see a pub landlord being treated in such a cavalier fashion when he has made such a good job of brining new life to the area with a really welcoming public house.”

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A Punch Tavern spokesman said: “We feel that the newly recruited licensee will be able to take the Grinning Rat from strength to strength and continue to serve the local community, regardless of sexual orientation.

“Any allegations of homophobia are completely unfounded and potentially libellous.”

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