Published: 12:00, 29 July 2021
| Updated: 13:56, 04 August 2021
The owner of a town centre club which was devastated by fire says he was considering moving the business to Brighton before the community's outpouring of support made him reconsider.
Ciaran O'Quigley, owner of Mu Mu, in Maidstone, spoke exclusively to KentOnline from the set of The Crown after landing an acting role.
Mu Mu comprises two buildings, 110 Week Street and 108. Two weeks ago a fire in the early hours of the morning ripped through 110, damaging offices, a restaurant and nightclub.
Thankfully, 108, which includes an Irish pub and a 1920s-style speakeasy cocktail bar, was unscathed.
Incredibly, last week, after working "24 hours a day", Mr O'Quigley and his staff were able to open 108 and live Irish music is set to return this week, as is Drag Queen Karaoke.
Since the fire, a fundraising page was set up for the business and many people have offered their assistance in repairing the restaurant and cabaret club in 110 Week Street.
Mr O'Quigley, who has owned the business for 29 years, said: "We just didn't realise we were loved I suppose. The Maidstone community have been amazing.
"We were actively looking for a couple of years in Brighton to relocate because we didn't really feel our heart belonged in Maidstone. But we just feel there has been so much love we aren't going anywhere.
"An old lady came into the pub and gave me £5 out of her purse. The Maidstone Borough Council leader offered us offices free of charge.
"We have had loads of emails from people saying 'I want to book a week off work so I can come help us'. Our customers have been amazing. We have had fire officers coming back to help us.
"We couldn't personally respond to everybody, there have been thousands of people. I want to say thank you to all those wonderful people."
Mr O'Quigley says he is hoping to reopen the restaurant at 110 in six to seven weeks but says the cabaret evenings might take a bit longer to restart.
Despite the task ahead of them, Mr O'Quigley is feeling optimistic.
"I am a very positive thinking person, I just think how lucky that the building didn't go down.
"I suppose you could just sit and cry and not do anything but you have got to be reactive."
Mr O'Quigley is also an actor and was speaking to KentOnline whilst filming in the New Forest, in Hampshire, after securing a role in season five of Netflix's The Crown – which chronicles the lives of the modern British monarchy.
He is playing an interior designer for The Prince and Princess of Wales and described his role as a "cameo" but confirmed it is a speaking role.