Ipswich: Landlord of thriving gay pub the Grinning Rat claims he has been given just a week to leave the premises

James Iannone, landlord at The Grinning Rat pub in Ipswich that they call the premier gay pub, is an

James Iannone, landlord at The Grinning Rat pub in Ipswich that they call the premier gay pub, is angry at the short notice he was given by Suffolk Taverns to vacate the pub - Credit: Archant

A pub landlord has expressed his anger after claiming he has been given just a week to move out – only four months after he moved in.

James Iannone moved into the Grinning Rat in St Helen’s Street, Ipswich after taking on the running of the pub in January.

The 37-year-old says he signed a Tenancy at Will contract with tenants Punch Taverns, with a view to extending the deal to a five-year tenancy agreement.

But last Tuesday, he claims, the pub chain told him he had to leave this Wednesday, as a new landlord had been hired.

“I was absolutely livid when I found out. I was gobsmacked,” he said.

“I have put in thousands of pounds into investing in the pub. It is where I live and now I’m being told to move out – and I was only given a week’s notice.”

Mr Iannone added he has transformed the pub into a thriving business since turning it into a gay venue.

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“When I first took over the pub, I told them I was going to change it back into a gay pub,” he added.

“I remember the Olive Leaf 10 years ago was a very successful gay pub. Ipswich needs a gay pub.”

He added: “All my hard work has been taken away and I don’t know why.

“I never did anything wrong, I did everything by the book and we never had any trouble with the police.”

Mr Iannone said he has the backing of his pub regulars and will now wait until Wednesday, when Punch Taverns are expected to arrive at the premises.

A Punch Taverns spokesman said: “We have recruited a new licensee to take on the Grinning Rat.

“We have every confidence that he will be able to take the pub from strength to strength and continue to serve the local community.

“We look for a smooth transition without the need to close the pub.”

 

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