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Deal: Pier café reopens with new look and managers as part of £500,000 refurbishment scheme

ByCharlie Harman

A popular café at the end of a pier was reopened today with a new look and management team.

The Deal Pier Kitchen has been completely overhauled as part of the council's £500,000 refurbishment of the pier on which it sits.

The unit closed in January 2017 after former occupant Jasin Kaplan's lease was terminated by mutual agreement with Dover District Council.

Council chairman Cllr Sue Chandler cutting the ribbon alongside Cllr Trevor Bartlet, right, Tim Biggs, centre left, and Rebecca Hodson
Council chairman Cllr Sue Chandler cutting the ribbon alongside Cllr Trevor Bartlet, right, Tim Biggs, centre left, and Rebecca Hodson

Not only has the interior been modernised, but the previous leaseholders have been replaced with two new managers, Tim Biggs and Rebecca Hodson.

Speaking at the opening, 27-year-old Ms Hodson said: "We're absolutely ecstatic to finally be open and operational.

"It's a beautiful town and I've got to spend a huge amount of time here while improvement work was underway.

"We feel so lucky and immensely grateful to have won the lease and we're excited to see how it goes.

"The people in the town are great and it's lovely welcoming them through our doors."

The Deal Pier Kitchen is opened by chairman of Dover District Council Cllr Sue Chandler

Council chairman Cllr Sue Chandler presented new managers Tim Biggs and Rebecca Hodson with a potted history of the pier
Council chairman Cllr Sue Chandler presented new managers Tim Biggs and Rebecca Hodson with a potted history of the pier
Visitors were queuing up to be among the first customers
Visitors were queuing up to be among the first customers

Chairman of Dover District Council Cllr Sue Chandler cut the ribbon on the new eatery, which features in the Deal-based ITV drama series Liar.

The councillor said: "This is a special opening for us as the council owns the pier and it's a key part of our refurbishment plan. It's also great to see two younger people decide to take on this exciting venture."

Having first pitched for the lease in May, the new managers will be working closely with the council over the course of their 20-year lease.

Cllr Trevor Bartlett, portfolio holder for property management and environmental health, has played an integral role in the renovations and attended the opening.

Speaking about the café, he said: "It's absolutely lovely. It's an iconic building and we felt that we wanted it to lend an essence to that and capture the lovely pier itself.

Dover District Council's portfolio holder for property management and environmental health Cllr Trevor Bartlett has played an important role in pushing through the pier project
Dover District Council's portfolio holder for property management and environmental health Cllr Trevor Bartlett has played an important role in pushing through the pier project

"We interviewed Tim and Rebecca and we were so impressed with their enthusiasm. They came along for the interview and brought along some wonderful samples of their food.

"That didn't sway us but it was lovely having to try all the food. Other people did that as well but there was something about Tim and Rebecca.

"It was their enthusiasm and you could just sense that from them, that they were really keen and wanted to run this pier.

"It's taken maybe a little while longer than we wanted.

"We had issues with the previous owners and it wasn't just a straight forward process of them just leaving and Tim and Rebecca coming in, but we are where we are and today is the official opening so we're now just looking forward."

Staff were busy behind the refurbished counter after the opening today
Staff were busy behind the refurbished counter after the opening today

The venue - which will be open daily from 9am to 4pm - is dog-friendly and offers a wide range of drinks and brunch options.

All of the 300m pier's seating was replaced ahead of Christmas as part of the council's £500,000 renovation scheme, which was announced on the structure's Diamond Anniversary in 2017.

The project was completed ahead of schedule by Walmer-based contractors, Hipperson.

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