A historic pub has been saved from closure after new owners took it on and invested almost half-a-million pounds in refurbing it.
Bill and Sarah Pennell took the helm of The Mill Inn, in Deal, in June before shutting the doors at the start of October to give it a huge refit.
Having now welcomed back customers, Mr Pennell told of his pride in being able to save the old mining pub, which dates back to 1933.
“The pub is almost 100 years old but over the last 10-plus years, unfortunately, it’s been a bit unloved and uncared for. It certainly needed smartening up and bringing into the future,” he said.
“The brewery, Admiral Taverns, approached me and I’d just retired from being the UK director of Specsavers after 12 years. Before that, I’d had award-winning pubs in Hertfordshire and before that, I was a marketing director at Tesco for 19 years.
“They asked me if I would invest in it so I bought it for 10 years effectively on the basis that we would refit it because the community deserves it.”
The 55-year-old has signed a five year tenancy with the brewery, with a five year extension option. He says the pub would have closed if he had not taken it on.
He added: “We’ve lost so many pubs and this is the only one at the top of the hill. It is so loved and is the ex-minor’s pub. I live just up the road so I thought I need to save it and invest.”
The Mill Inn has been given a completely new lease of life following the work, which saw the site closed for more than a month.
“The cost of the renovation is almost half-a-million pounds,” Mr Pennell said. “I didn’t really want to close it but we just had to bite the bullet because it’s such a major refit.
“We’ve now reopened, although the outside won’t be finished because we’ve had such terrible weather.
“It looks beautiful on the inside. It’s been restored to a proper community, Victorian-style pub. It’s just in keeping and I hope the community will love and appreciate it.
“I’ve also commissioned about £2,000 of local photographic artwork to go on the walls, which includes a picture of the pub and scenes from Deal around 1952, as a nod to the past.”
Although The Mill Inn is a drinking pub, Mr Pennell has also bought a commercial pizza oven and a new kitchen. This means the site will be able to offer takeaway pizzas, bar snacks and buffets for parties.
“Sarah looks after the catering and I’ll be in charge of the bar and customers,” he said.
“We have a manager who’s living here and all the staff live locally.
“It’s all come together and we feel proud. I’m hopeful it’s going to go well.
“I really hope we’ll be giving the community something to be proud of and cherish.”