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The White Bear helps number of pubs rise in Tunbridge Wells

Putting the community first is the key to a new pub's success, one landlord has said.

Unlike most of the country, the number of pubs in Tunbridge Wells rose last year.

The White Bear in Tunbridge Wells
The White Bear in Tunbridge Wells

One of those new pubs was The White Bear, which returned to the town's High Street in August after a 34 year absence.

New general manager Catherine Button took over after stints running bustling London pubs, including The Betjeman Arms at St Pancras International.

Five months after opening, the new manager said: "In London it's all transient trade, but here in Tunbridge Wells it's about being part of the community."

Young's took over The Tunbridge Wells Bar and Grill last year and announced it would be turning the restaurant back into a pub last July.

It was one of five new pubs to open in the borough last year, bringing the total up to 80.

The White Bear in Tunbridge Wells has an orangery - an outdoor seating area with a retractable roof
The White Bear in Tunbridge Wells has an orangery - an outdoor seating area with a retractable roof

Mrs Button said: "The biggest challenge for us was winning over hearts and minds.

"People don't always like change, the bar and grill was very well liked, we've had to show people that we're a pub but we also have a superior food offering."

Since opening on a sweltering August Bank Holiday weekend the pub has started holding Mummy Mondays, where parents can bring in their little ones for lunch and a coffee and it continues to let visitors bring in their dogs.

Mrs Button added: "It's been very rewarding so far, we opened on a hot weekend so people were pouring in, now we're getting to the end of a quiet January we're starting to pick up and prepare for the summer again.

"When we opened there were couples coming back who met in The White Bear years ago, I think locals have been really receptive to the pub taking the old name back.

"It's been about getting our offering right, pubs are for the entire family now, we're just trying to show people it doesn't have to be a special occasion to come and visit like when it was the bar and grill.

"Hopefully more people will start getting off at the train station and think about popping in."

To read the Secret Drinker’s pub reviews click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells.

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