New owners reveal big plans for The George in Chipping Sodbury

First published in Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

THE new owners of Chipping Sodbury’s biggest pub have revealed their ambitious plans for the premises.

Three business partners snapped up The George Hotel, on Broad Street, when former landlord and licensee Mike Harrington put the pub on the market.

The trio from Surrey, investors Reefe Kenley, Paul Buffery and Bhinder Purewal alongside their accountant Furrokh Billimoria, are spending thousands of pounds refurbishing the pub’s large bar area, kitchens, café and offices.

"It is such a beautiful building which dates back to 1439," said Mr Kenley, who is moving to the area in the New Year. "It just needs some tender loving care."

In its heyday in the noughties, The George regularly attracted large groups of revellers to Friday and Saturday night discos and was popular with shoppers for lunch. But in recent years the pub was sparsely frequented.

"We want to get away from the 18 to 20-year-old audience that the place attracted latterly," said Mr Buffery.

"We don’t want to be an 11pm to 2am drinking place and we are hoping that not using the late night licence will make people sympathetic to our plans."

A newly-decorated bar, with a relaxed and cosy atmosphere, an elegant dining room and a café in the pub's former office will all open on January 17 with an invite-only launch party followed by general opening the following day.

The covered cobbled thoroughfare between the different rooms will be well lit and feature a wood-burning stove to give customers extra dining options and the toilets will be completely refitted. But the plans do not end there as the business partners intend to turn the former disco area into a 100-seat function room catering for conferences and wedding receptions.

Expired planning permission for nine bedrooms at the back of The George will be resubmitted and the group will look to extend the building in the future.

"We want to make it a real venue of choice," said Mr Buffery. "So we are considering turning what was the café area into a new large kitchen which could cater for 100 meals at a time.

"And in the future we would look to extend to create more letting bedrooms and create a decking area overlooking the river."

He added: "There is lots of space here for people and an awful lot of potential. "We want to improve the ambience, raise the standard and lift the image of the place."

Chef Paul Wilson, with 36 years experience in the industry, and his wife Brenda have taken over as managers of the pub.

Chinese restaurant Henry's Oriental, above the bar area, will continue to be sub-let and opening hours will not be affected by the changes to The George.

The George will be recruiting an entire team of new staff in the New Year.

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