Published: 00:00, 14 July 2014
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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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