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Kelly and Chris Smith, managers of Sheppey's new Wetherspoon The Belle and Lion in Sheerness, vow to work with the community

By Emma Grove

The husband-and-wife team who have been taken on as the managers of Sheppey’s new Wetherspoon pub say they are looking forward to becoming part of the community.

Kelly and Chris Smith got the keys to The Belle and Lion last week and the doors are due to open to the public at 8am on Tuesday, July 22.

The Watford-based company was given the go-ahead for the £1.2 million refurbishment of the former Brittain and Hobbs shop in High Street, Sheerness, in February.

Kelly and Chris Smith, the managers of the new Belle and Lion Wetherspoon pub in Sheerness

It’s been named after the first public house to be built in the historic conservation area of Mile Town.

Mr and Mrs Smith, who have relocated from Greenhithe to Minster, have worked for Wetherspoon for 12 years and have spent the last seven of those in charge of the Paper Moon pub in Dartford.

They said they fancied a new challenge and when the opportunity came up here they jumped at it – liking the idea of bringing their two children up by the sea and having had family move to the Island in recent years.

Mrs Smith, 32, says they are used to running community pubs and that’s the feel they want for The Belle and Lion.

Work is continuing to get Sheppey's new Wetherspoon ready for its grand opening

“It’s will be very food and family driven,” she said. “We want to work with all the other licensed traders in the high street and bring people into the town to benefit us all.

“We work here and live here and we care about the town and want to make it better.”

Another focus for the pair is real ale, which 33-year-old Mr Smith is keen on promoting.

The Paper Moon has spent the last five years in the Good Beer Guide and they hope to replicate that success on the Island.

Two Kent-brewed beers will be served at the pub, one of which will be called Polyphemus pale ale after a ship built at Sheerness Dockyard, and regulars will have the chance to name the other something Sheppey-related.

The new Belle and Lion Wetherspoon pub in Sheerness is due to open on July 22

A competition will be run within the pub to come up with ideas for the tipple, which is a raspberry and blackberry porter, and it will be announced about a month after opening.

“We want to up the profile of ale on the Island,” added Mrs Smith. It’s all about good food, good service and good standards.”

  • The Belle and Lion will be open from 7am to midnight daily and until 1am on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Alcohol will be served from 8am.
  • There will be door staff every day during opening week and usually every Friday and Saturday.
  • Mr Smith says they take a hard line on anti-social behaviour and if people are not respecting customers and the venue, they will be asked to leave.
  • A section at the rear of the pub, which will be used for table bookings, will also be available to hire out for functions.
  • Seating in the outside area has been made from old fishing boats and 80% of the outside area will be non-smoking.
  • Mr and Mrs Smith have already hired 59 bar and kitchen staff, nearly all of who are from Sheppey, and they will have 10 days of intensive training starting this week.
  • Contracts for things like window cleaning and supplying flowers will go to local companies.
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