Sunday marks the end of an era for iconic Retreat wine bar owner Ian Morrison who will serve his last pint after 34 years.
Popular Ian, 61, will shout ‘last orders, please’ for the final time at his farewell retirement party as regulars will raise a glass to his dedicated service to the town that began in 1988 when a glass of wine was £1.10 and a pint of Stella was £1.35 and you could buy a packet of cigarettes from his vending machine for £1.48.
“It has been a long time and I’m slightly sad, but on the other hand, 34 years is a long time, and a lot of people I’ve seen and made friends with,” Ian said.
“I’ve had so much fun in Stroud and I couldn’t think of anywhere better to live in the whole of England.”
The Retreat was billed as a swanky wine bar when the doors swung open in the late 1980s as the Filofax and mobile phone generation flocked to the opening of a bar previously known as Corkers wine bar.
Ian quickly put his own unique stamp on the bar and the secret of its ongoing success is that little has changed over the years, from the regular Monday night quiz to the Boxing Day ball to the annual Retreat cricket match against the Retreat’s sister bar in Cheltenham.
Photographer Brian Donnan took this photo of Ian, dancing on his own bar at the Retreat.
“This was probably taken in the late 1980s, during a Retreat Cheltenham, to Retreat Stroud cycle ride,” explained Brian, who now lives in Spain.
Retreat regular Adrian Stratton paid tribute to his close friend: “I spent many, many years in the Retreat with Ian and have many stories, some that can be told and others will have to remain private. It will be a change not to see him behind the bar with his glass of red wine, but I’m glad he’s starting a new chapter in his life and I’m sure there will be many, many more stories to come.”
Many a celebrity has been spotted in the bar from actors to musicians and even BBC Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison worked behind the bar during her teenage years.
Thankfully, the Retreat will remain the same with new owner Jamie Daye and partner Steph carrying on the tradition, Jamie being the son of Cheltenham Retreat owner Mike.
Ian added: “The great thing is because Jamie and Steph, who are actually the Retreat family are taking it over so the Retreat stays as the Retreat, which is really important. If we had sold out to a pub company it would change dramatically so you’ll see a bit of youth come in, a bit more fun, the old bugger has gone and somebody else will come in with some nice new ideas.”
Ian’s retirement party at the Retreat is open to all and starts at 2pm on Sunday.