Refurbished pub looks to reel in the students

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A popular Oxford pub has launched an ‘X Factor’ style talent search to celebrate its official relaunch party next week.

The St Aldates Tavern has reopened following a £150,000 revamp, with the pub encouraging local one- and two piece bands to audition to be the live entertainment for customers at the party on 18th October.

Budding musicians are encouraged to upload videos of themselves playing live music onto the pub’s YouTube or Facebook pages. The band that gains the most ‘likes’ will win the gig and a chance to impress the locals.

Ben Sullivan, a second year Christ Church undergraduate, said: “This is an excellent way to bring X Factor lovers together!”

The pub, which closed last year, has a new kitchen, more seating and upgraded toilets. Manager Tom Goddard said: “We’re trying to make the place welcoming to everyone.”

Students missing the crew dating haunt of Jamals may also be in luck, as the pub is “looking to develop a function room that will be very student orientated” upstairs. Although the manager admitted that this may be a “very brave” venture.

Tom Goddard said: “We’ve been getting quite a bit of students already, so we’re going to change the drinks around a bit with prices hopefully geared towards them.”

The pub is also trying to draw in sports fans by broadcasting live rugby games from 10th November.

Representatives of the St Aldates Tavern will be manning a stand at OUSU Freshers’ Fair this week to talk to students about what they would like to see added to the pub to make it more student-friendly. Visitors to the stand will also benefit from a drinks promotion and the chance to sample local ales.

Rival pub The Old Tom does not appear to be concerned about competition however, with barman Tim Bates saying: “The reopening of The St Aldates hasn’t affected us at all so far. We’re more of a traditional pub with a good group of locals who visit regularly.”

He added: “We have a good reputation already with locals and tourists, rather than with the student population. It’ll get the students off our hands to be honest. They just make a lot of noise, and don’t think about the sixty year old men here just trying to eat their food.”

The St Aldates Tavern is one of Oxford’s oldest city centre pubs, and has been leased from its owner Merton College by the City Pub Company, which runs six pubs in the South of England.

Originally owned by Courage, the pub was called The Bulldog until the 1990s when it was taken over by Wychwood.

The building was then sold to Pubs ‘n’ Bars which ran it until entering administration in 2009.