The new landlord of a historic Sheppey pub and hotel says the business came close to shutting for good.
The Royal Hotel, which is on the corner of Royal Road and Broadway, Sheerness, is under new management and is undergoing a refurbishment.
The building was constructed in 1825 by famous Sheppey builder Sir Edward Banks, who also worked on Sheerness Dockyard – under the guidance of John Rennie – and Southwark and Waterloo Bridges.
It was recently taken over by new tenant Kevin Burgess on behalf of owner Shepherd Neame.
The 56-year-old, who also runs the Flying Dutchman in Queenborough, said: “The brewery were in two minds about whether they were going to keep it.
“That’s the whole reason we took it. It’s a very tired, old building but it would be a waste of a historic building.
“We took over the Flying Dutchman because that was run down but the old pub has a lot of history.
“It’s took off and it’s doing really well now and we’ve actually put it back on the map.”
He said he aims to “breathe some fresh air” into the Royal. One plan to bring in the punters is traditional English food and the cooking staff at the Flying Dutchman will support the new venture.
Work is ongoing to revamp the kitchen and bar which is hoped to be finished in time so that it can reopen mid-May.
After that the plan is to work through the rest of the interior and exterior, including the 13 suites and function room.
Mr Burgess said the business faces competition from the nearby Wetherspoon pub the Belle and Lion while a Marston’s family pub planned for Neats Court also threatens to affect his other establishment.
He feels Swale council should have done more to help out Sheppey businesses, adding: “They are creating a little bit of work up there but they don’t spend any money on the Island.
“With us, 90% of what we use is local, whereas with these people no money goes back into the town apart from rates.”
He added he would like to see more money invested into the High Street.