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Bodega 51, bar, gym and cafe, to open at former Singapora and Moondance in Rochester High Street

Home from home – that's the message from multi-skilled entrepreneur Kayea Shome who's about to open her new business venture.

The fitness instructor and accountant is launching a bar, cafe and gym in Rochester High Street.

Kayea Shome and partner Cliff Hutchings outside Bodega 51
Kayea Shome and partner Cliff Hutchings outside Bodega 51

And the venue has fond memories for her as she lived there as a child when her parents ran the Singapora Lounge restaurant.

The 34-year-old and partner Cliff Hitchings are currently giving the grade-II listed building a makeover.

They hope to open it as Bodega 51 in the next few weeks, hopefully in time for Easter.

The couple, who both have full-time day jobs – Cliff, 40, is a scaffolder – are working at night to get the place into shape.

Kayea said: "I remember moving here when I was about two and thinking there are so many stairs.

Bodega 51 is opening in High Street, Rochester
Bodega 51 is opening in High Street, Rochester

"It's an old place with lots of weird shaped walls, but we are getting to grips with it, to make it our own."

The building, under the famous Sir Cloudesley Shovell Clock in the historic part of the town, is still owned by her parents David and Mei who run the Gordon House Hotel, just down the road.

It was leased out to tenants who ran cocktail bar and live music venue Moondance, which fell victim financially to the lockdown.

The personal trainer also plans to open her studio, Necessity, Health and Fitness, in the basement where she will be offering one-to-one training by appointment only.

Upstairs will be a coffee shop selling basic "street food" snacks and cans of soft and alcoholic drinks.

Paul Dixon outside his new micropub
Paul Dixon outside his new micropub

There is also a garden tucked away at the back offering extra seating.

Kayea, who lives with Cliff in Rochester, said: "We want to make it flexible and see what works."

They took over the property last October after it became vacant when the previous occupants left.

Cliff said: "Rochester is very much alive at the moment. We want to make it a place for people to chill out."

Earlier this month a micropub, the Wolfe and Castle opened in what's known as the "wonky shop" opposite.

Owner Paul Dixon, a self-confessed real-ale geek, gave up his top advertising job in London to fulfil his dream.

He said since moving to Rochester last year: "I love the place and am looking forward to being part of the High Street's community."

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