Kimpton pub rings in the changes

IN the face of widespread closures across the country, the Great British pub has struggled in recent years. At one point, it is believed as many as 50 pubs a week were closing as punters stayed away in a bid to save money. But here in Times Territory, the public house appears to be hitting back, with several establishments re-opening after closure, coming under new management or having revamps. In the latest of a series of articles, reporter Ross Logan continues his tour of watering holes that are bucking the trend. This week, he speaks to the owners of The Boot, in Kimpton.

LONG before they became landlords, Barry and Roberta Smith were already well-known faces in The Boot in High Street, Kimpton.

“We’ve been drinking in this pub for years,” said Barry. “I used to meet my wife here for a drink after work.

“Because of that, I saw the potential it had. I knew the old landlord, and when he gave it up, he put our names forward.”

That was back in December 2006, and a lot has changed in that time.

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After spending their own money on new carpets and new toilets, Barry and Roberta’s cause was further boosted when pub owner Admiral Taverns invested �214,000 into a complete refurbishment.

The pub was re-roofed, rewired, redecorated, and the conservatory rebuilt. Then Roberta spotted the potential in a disused barn at the back of the building, and it was promptly converted into five bed and breakfast rooms in August this year.

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“It was Roberta’s idea to convert the barn into rooms to let,” said Barry. “Although it’s been a big job, it’s all been worth it as the rooms look fantastic and have proved to be extremely popular.

“We could only afford to scratch the surface when it came to all the work that needed doing, so the investment from Admiral has been of huge benefit.

“The revamp has helped us to attract a host of new customers and given us the potential to do so much more.”

The pub now serves breakfast lunch and dinner, thanks to a full-time, live-in chef. But although The Boot is expanding into all new areas, Barry said his pub would still retain the traditional charm that so enamoured him to it in the first place.

“Let’s never forget that we’re still a traditional pub,” he said. “The difference is we’re a traditional pub that serves very good food.”

The Boot is open from 8am to midnight Monday to Saturday and 12pm to 10.30pm Sundays. Call 01438 832438 for more information.

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