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The seven pubs, bars, and clubs undergoing changes in and around Maidstone

By William Janes

Pub-goers are seeing a lot of changes to some of their regular haunts with a number of pubs, clubs, and bars closed for refurbishment.

Those who enjoy a drink or a night out can also look forward to seeing some new arrivals to Maidstone.

We took a look at what's changing for the bar, pub, and night-life scene in and around the county town.

Seven pubs, bars, and clubs are undergoing changes in and around Maidstone
Seven pubs, bars, and clubs are undergoing changes in and around Maidstone

Number one: The Herbalist and Junipers
Hoping to bring something fresh and new to Maidstone is the combination restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue made up of two attractions under one roof.

At the site of the former Buddha Belly restaurant on the corner of High Street and Pudding Lane, Maidstone, The Herbalist will be a hybrid pub, bar, and restaurant at street level serving a range of "international cuisine" from 8am to 11pm.

Below the Herbalist, Junipers will be an entertainment venue open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights between 6pm and 2am showing a variety of acts including DJs and stand-up comedy.

Work began on the site in October last year and is expected to be completed near the end of May 2018, becoming owner Elite Pubs sixth location.

The Herbalist and Junipers at the former site of Buddha Belly.
The Herbalist and Junipers at the former site of Buddha Belly.

Number two: The White Rabbit
This pub with strong links to the county town's military history is undergoing a complete transformation.

The White Rabbit, which closed its doors in early February, is set to re-open on Friday, March 16, but not as a pub.

Parent company Mitchells and Butlers, which owns well-known chains Harvester and All Bar One, is converting the 18th Century timber building into a Miller and Carter Steakhouse.

The building has undergone numerous changes throughout its long history, serving as the officers' mess for Invicta Barracks, built in 1779, and being home to the Seventh light Dragoons for 100 years, giving it the name 'the Cavalry Barracks'.

The White Rabbit, Maidstone.
The White Rabbit, Maidstone.

Number three: Earls
Closed on Friday, January 12, this 19th Century pub is undergoing a £900,000 expansion and will see the return of its original name - The Market House.

Owner Shepherd Neame says the pub will have a new floor layout to accommodate more customers, an extended drinks menu, a new kitchen, and a refurbished roof terrace when it reopens in early April.

It is also set to keep a focus on live music, as it has done in the past, and take advantage of local talent.

Changes will also bring more jobs to Maidstone as the pub seeks to recruit 12 new staff members to join the team.

Earls, Earls Street, Maidstone
Earls, Earls Street, Maidstone

Number four: Strawberry Moons
Owners of this popular nightclub announced its closure for the major refurbishment of a new venue early this year with a re-opening set for Spring 2019.

Aside from news that it will re-open and that a refurbishment is taking place, few details about the future of the club, which has been part of Maidstone's night life scene for 25 years, have been revealed.

Strawberry Moons, Gabriels Hill, Maidstone
Strawberry Moons, Gabriels Hill, Maidstone

Number five: Harry's Bar
The Brenchley pub in Jubilee Square will be seeing the addition a rooftop new rooftop bar called Harry's.

Signage has already appeared outside the grade II listed building, but similar to Strawberry Moons, management have remained tight lipped when it comes to details.

However, plans submitted to the council show a terrace with a bar and seating on the first floor of the pub.

Other features include an indoor bar, a dancefloor, a DJ booth, and toilets, based towards the front of the first floor.

Opening is expected at some time around Easter.

Harry's Bar at the Brenchley pub.
Harry's Bar at the Brenchley pub.

Number six: The Anchor
Moving out of town, The Anchor on the banks of the river Medway in Yalding is set to re-open in April with a change of name.

The Hampstead Lane pub, which closed in January, will be unveiled to the public as The Boathouse following a £1.3m renovation.

Customers will be treated to beautiful views along the river through a new glass frontage and take in new nautical themed décor.

Owners say the new-look pub will serve pub classics with a modern twist between 12pm and 9pm daily, with brunch from 9am on weekends.

The Anchor, soon to be The Boathouse, in Yalding
The Anchor, soon to be The Boathouse, in Yalding

Number seven: The Spitfire

Even Further afield, The Spitfire, a Shepherd Neame pub in Kings Hill, is currently closed for a £1m refurbishment to open at the end of April.

Major alterations are being made the the pub, which closed on Monday, March 5, including the separation of the ground floor into three dining areas around a central bar.

The first floor will be converted from a dining and drinking area to a function room for 100 people while a smaller function room also on the first floor and a second floor function room will be refurbished.

The Spitfire in Kings Hill
The Spitfire in Kings Hill

Situated in Liberty Square and built on the site of a former RAF base, the pub will be getting new signage featuring the famous aircraft that inspired its name.

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