Published: 10:56, 19 October 2020
| Updated: 11:22, 19 October 2020
Locals had to wait even longer than expected for the only pub in their village to reopen after its £275,000 revamp.
The Thompson's Bell in Walmer near Deal was finally reopened at the weekend by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and new licensee Artur Matyjaszczyk.
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The pub, in Dover Road, had been closed since February 23 and was originally due to open in early April following an extensive refurbishment.
But the pandemic halted the work, leaving customers waiting a further eight months before getting their first glimpse of the sympathetic upgrade.
Now visitors will see the reconfiguration has created more space, making social distancing easier. An outside extension has been incorporated into the pub and the bar has been moved to increase capacity.
The pub will serve classic pub food and show Sky sports. It will also begin monthly quizzes from November. Plans for live music, darts and pool teams are on hold for now until the Government gives the go-ahead for these activities to start again.
Mr Matyjaszczyk said: “We’re really excited to be opening at last and welcoming local residents across the threshold.
"The reopening of The Thompson’s Bell has been a long time in the planning, but it is well worth the wait. It is now a stunning family and dog-friendly pub.
“I am delighted to be creating local jobs especially at this time. As for trade, we are lucky in that our original design was already quite socially distanced.
"Walmer is, in my opinion, also likely to be affected less than other parts of the country with more people working from home and staycationing in the area and a new housing development nearby.”
Dugald Macer, regional operations director at Star Pubs & Bars, said: “The Thompson Bell’s refurbishment has made the pub ideal for the new socially distanced world we’re living in.
"It’s now a fantastic traditional family and dog-friendly village pub, and with more people eating and drinking locally, I anticipate it will be a great success. I wish Artur and his team well.”
The Thompson’s Bell will open from 11am every day.
Covid compliant measures include a one-way system, multiple hand sanitisers, table service only, point-of-sale to remind customers about social distancing with Test and Trace barcodes to use, an enhanced cleaning regime, Covid safety staff training and Covid-safe-to trade certification by independent hospitality experts. Customers are also asked to book in advance.