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Valerie's wine bar in Ashford's Lower High Street opens with takeaway drinks

Have you ever fancied walking down the high street with a glass of red wine or a cocktail in your hand?

A new wine bar has opened in Ashford town centre for takeaway orders, offering a range of tipples to tickle anyone's fancy.

How the new wine bar looks
How the new wine bar looks

Valerie's, sited in the former CMDL Dance and Schoolwear shop, was originally scheduled for a public launch in mid-March – just as lockdown was introduced.

But the unfortunate timing has allowed owner Alexandra Lewis-Wortley to focus on her existing carer business, Expertise Homecare, and to finesse her new venture's premises.

She said: "Naturally I was gutted – as were all business owners who had to shut – but the government had to take that definitive step.

"I'm happy we have got to a stage where we're sitting in a bar, it's looking great and we have stock and staff.

"Since the high street's been reopened, I've really enjoyed seeing people peek into the window and say 'this is exactly what we've been missing in Ashford' and we can't wait to serve people and have a proper party.

The former CMDL Dance and Schoolwear shop previously housed a building society branch
The former CMDL Dance and Schoolwear shop previously housed a building society branch

"We hope to have customers sitting outside the shopfront soon, in accordance with government guidelines of course.

"We've spoken to licensing and the police who've been really supportive, and we've ordered bio-degradable, compostable goblets for wine and cocktails.

"We're eager to show everyone the effort we've put into this project and showcase the drinks, atmosphere and decor, but obviously we have to do it in line with government guidelines.

"Businesses nowadays have to be creative and malleable in the current moment, so we're excited to see what we can achieve."

New manager Scott Mount has a wealth of experience after working at the Hythe Imperial and Eastwell Manor hotels, and hopes to entice people in with mixology using non-standard ingredients.

A fully-stocked bar pictured ahead of yesterday's first service
A fully-stocked bar pictured ahead of yesterday's first service
Despite the Lower High Street bar opening yesterday, it is not known when customers will be able to fully enjoy the luxurious interior
Despite the Lower High Street bar opening yesterday, it is not known when customers will be able to fully enjoy the luxurious interior

Valerie's was named after Alexandra's mum, who was in the dark until a private family launch party just before lockdown.

The 31-year-old businesswoman recounted: "She saw the name on the menu and thought she'd been given a specially printed menu until I told her what was going on."

The design style, described as "indulgent art deco", features wisteria, large bathroom mirrors and a variety of seating.

Alex Lewis-Wortley is excited to be serving customers after a months-long delay
Alex Lewis-Wortley is excited to be serving customers after a months-long delay

Customers also have the opportunity to dance on the tables, once social distancing has ended.

Ms Lewis-Wortley thanked eager customers for their patience, and also praised the community for their kindness towards carers from her other business.

She said: "A huge shout-out to the Ashford and Folkestone public because they've been so supportive, and the fact they had independent shopping hours has been a massive help.

Manager Scott Mount will be bringing a wealth of experience with him
Manager Scott Mount will be bringing a wealth of experience with him

"The support has been incredible, so much so that it's not been as much of a challenge as I'd thought we were going to face."

Valerie's is offering takeaways until 6pm each day.

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