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Rob Norbury on his career change from Hollyoaks to hospitality

PUBLISHED: 13:25 31 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:25 31 October 2017

Rob Norbury in the restaurant

Rob Norbury in the restaurant

Archant

A Saddleworth actor is relishing a new career as a restaurateur, as Emma Mayoh discovered

The RestaurantThe Restaurant

hollyoaks actor Rob Norbury was more accustomed to spending his days in front of a camera but he has now developed a taste for the hospitality industry.

The young actor, who grew up in Oldham and now lives in Uppermill, opened Muse just over three years ago. Then it was a small bar down a side track in Uppermill. Now, it has expanded to be a 100-cover restaurant with a cocktail bar that has also redeveloped an old, disused building which was once a curry house.

‘When I opened it just proved that there was a real demand for what we were doing,’ said Rob. ‘We’re a little bit quirky which is something I really wanted to build on and it seems it’s something other people love too.

‘My family helped me with taking Muse cocktail bar on. It was an existing business. Then the building at the side, which had been a real eyesore, came up for sale. It was a no brainer for me.’

Wild Mushroom Sourdough:
Wild mushrooms sautéed with garlic and spinach on toasted sourdough served with a fried duck eggWild Mushroom Sourdough: Wild mushrooms sautéed with garlic and spinach on toasted sourdough served with a fried duck egg

Rob has now created a stylish, warehouse feel venue with quirky neons and retro posters as well as lovely outdoor seating areas and terraces. It’s been something the 29-year-old has loved doing.

‘I just wanted it to be different,’ said Rob. ‘When I wanted to leave concrete exposed the builders thought I was mad. But now they’ve seen it they know it works.

‘It’s been really great fun with Muse. It’s something I absolutely love doing.

‘When I’m in here and I see groups of friends coming in ready for a good time it really makes me smile.

‘Then there are couples and families who come in and they love what we’ve done here. I have a great team who are doing great things and it shows because people like what we’re doing.’

The actor-turned-restaurateur has already started to expand his empire. He recently took on historic pub, The Farrars Arms in Grasscroft. Having always been popular as a drinker’s pub, Rob was keen to update it without losing its charms. He and his team refurbished the 18th century venue making sure to retain its interesting features.

‘The Farrars is a place that’s really well known and it was a place I used to love going to years ago,’ said Rob. ‘I heard the previous owners were thinking of leaving but nobody seemed to want to take it on.

‘I didn’t want to see it just go so decided to go for it. It’s a great place and people seem to have really liked what’s been done.

‘I was determined for it to remain a traditional pub with all the features you’d expect. Maybe I went too far as someone asked me when I was getting rid of the carpets – I’d just had them put in new!’

Pub classics are at the heart of the menu alongside more modern additions. There is also a great choice of beers.

‘That was really important at a place like the Farrars,’ said Rob. ‘It’s still very much a pub, I never wanted it to be anything different. We get a lot of walkers and you can take your dog in. It’s a welcoming, friendly place. I’m really pleased with how things are going there.’

At the heart of Rob’s plans in the hospitality industry is a love for the area he grew up in. As well as launching a new career for himself – although he’s not ready to completely stop acting just yet – he also feels strongly that he can help the local economy and visitor numbers to Saddleworth.

‘This area is such a bustling, thriving place now,’ said Rob. ‘In the small time we’ve been open it’s really changed. There are so many places to eat and drink, all offering something different. I’d like to think Muse and the Farrars have played a real part of that.

‘I’m proud to be able to have these businesses in a place that’s so special to me. People locally do seem to be pleased with what we’re doing and long may that continue.

‘I’m not giving acting up for good; if the right role came along I’d love to do it again. I’m still dipping my toe in every now and then. But I’m also very happy doing what I’m doing.’

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