New landlords get ready to reopen just two weeks after taking over village pub
- Credit: MATTHEW BAILEY
The Royal Oak pub in East Bergholt will reopen its doors on ‘Super Saturday’ with brand new owners and a fresh refurbishment – following months of closure due to coronavirus.
For the past two weeks, new owners Matthew Bailey and Andrew Meyer, have been transforming the pub in East End - known locally as The Dickie - and modernising it ahead of the return of customers, with social distancing measures put in place.
The pair, who met 10 years ago through friends, moved to the village in 2016 and have always dreamt of owning a business in the local area.
They said they “jumped at the chance” when The Dickie came on the market in June, adding that it had “great potential”.
Despite the hospitality industry facing huge struggles recently amid the pandemic, Mr Bailey said he “thinks it could be a lovely pub”.
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He said: “It’s got a lot of potential and we are going to modernise it.
“Bizarrely enough people in the village have been so supportive and I think they can’t wait to get back to the pub.”
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Mr Bailey, 35, moved to East Bergholt four years ago and has spent years looking for the perfect pub with his partner Andrew, aged 50.
When The Dickie opens it will be able to fit 10 to 15 people in the pub at one time with distancing in place, but the huge outdoor space will be perfect over the coming weeks.
They won’t be serving food straight away, but will be focussing on bar snacks and mezze boards, adding that it will be “quality food” which you can make a meal out of if you choose to.
Speaking of the pandemic, Mr Bailey said: “Obviously it is an issue, but it will be what it will be.
“People have been popping in and saying they can’t wait, I think many are desperate to get back to a pub.”
There will be a one-way system in place at the pub – which the pair have completely transformed – reopening the snug which had been closed for decades, sandblasting all the wooden interior and painting everything in sight.
There will also be hand sanitizer stations, gloves available and lot’s of tables outside to take advantage of the huge outside space.
Mr Bailey said they will only be able to have two people behind the bar – and they will need to be from the same household – meaning service may be slower than usual.
The 35-year-old said: “Myself and Andrew could not have done this without the support of our friends, they have been amazing.”
Mr Bailey said he thinks it will “go one way or another” on Saturday and is concerned people elsewhere in the UK will be stupid, potentially leading to another lockdown.
He said: “The outside space will really come into its own, with the undercover terrace and seating area brought up closer to the pub. I’m confident it will work.”
Famous local dogs Mister Noodles and Wilfred Humphrey – who have stolen the hearts of those cooped up in Constable Country with their socially distanced photo tour – will be at the pub for its official reopening.
Owner Graham Reed, said: “The boys were asked to open the pub due to their popularity during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“Both Matt and Andrew have followed the story of the dogs being published in the EADT and The Times and thought the opportunity for people to come and meet them would draw a good crowd to come and appreciate all the hard work they have put in to bringing The Dickie back to life.”