Published: 00:01, 28 April 2018
A steakhouse has defended its decision to turn away "hundreds" of customers who wanted to drink outside during last week's mini-heatwave.
Miller & Carter reopened in March as a restaurant having previously been known as one of Maidstone's most popular watering holes, the White Rabbit.
The Grade II listed building on Sandling Road has had a colourful history, serving as the officers' mess for Invicta Barracks, built in 1779 as a reaction to the threat of Napoleon.
When it officially opened its doors as an eatery last month, bosses promised the establishment would be "a credit to Maidstone", offering high quality steaks at an average meal price of around £21.
However, punters expressed dismay last week after reportedly being told by staff they couldn't drink outside, and that the outdoor area was for diners only.
Disappointed drinkers suggested they must have turned "hundreds" of potential customers away as the mercury rose to some 27C at times in the County Town last Tuesday and Wednesday.
Responding to the reports, a spokesperson for the restaurant said: "We understand people have been disappointed and that the White Rabbit was a pub with a big drinking community.
"But we only opened a month ago and we're not a pub any more, we're a restaurant.
"The decision of the area manager was to, at first, not allow 'just drinkers' - everyone still assumed we were just a pub and they just wanted to come and drink.
"We opened our outdoor seating area on Thursday for the first time - we had to say no before because it wasn't open yet.
"Drinkers are now very welcome to sit outside, but within that area, we're not looking to have people sitting on the grass or bringing deckchairs along.
"We're a brand new restaurant, completely different to what we were before, and have only been open a month - we need to be given time."