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Chefs taking over historic pub plan to get rid of its ‘unwelcoming vibe’

PUBLISHED: 10:08 29 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:13 29 February 2020

What are chefs Andy Rudd and Roger Hickman hoping to do at Micawbers? Pic: Archant

What are chefs Andy Rudd and Roger Hickman hoping to do at Micawbers? Pic: Archant

Chefs Roger Hickman and Andy Rudd aim to attract a new kind of customer at Norwich’s historic Micawbers Tavern.

How Micawbers used to look before being renovated. Pic: ArchantHow Micawbers used to look before being renovated. Pic: Archant

Chefs Roger Hickman and Andy Rudd aim to attract a new kind of customer when they take over Norwich's historic Micawbers Tavern.

They want to make it a 'family friendly and a hub for the local community.'

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Micawbers Tavern from Cow Hill. picture: Ella WilkinsonMicawbers Tavern from Cow Hill. picture: Ella Wilkinson

Roger Hickman, of Hickman's in Upper St Giles and Andy Rudd, who co-owns Stoke Mill, Stoke Holy Cross, are leasing the pub, which closed last year.

Mr Rudd, in the planning application to Norwich City Council, states some interior changes were needed to make the pub a success.

"Our offering is inclusive to families, older generations and young people where we will strive to create a warm and welcoming pub.

Inside Micawbers Tavern. Picture: Ella WilkinsonInside Micawbers Tavern. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"Micawbers, with its closed in interior and imposing front door gives an unwelcoming vibe, which we would like to improve by freshening up the windows, front door and lighting."

The pub, in Pottergate has been recently renovated by its owners externally. The chefs are now hoping the council will approve various changes to the interior so they can get on with the work and open up.

One of the main features of the new-look pub, will be, subject to planning approval, an old fashioned French rotisserie oven in the downstairs kitchen area.

Mr Rudd said in the application: "Rotisserie cooking, although traditional, is a healthy alternative to classic pub grub. The oven we have chosen is a fundamental selling point of our offering therefore it's necessary for it to be on show and become a key feature of the pub.

The renowned Micawber's Tavern, pictured in 1977. Pic: Archant libraryThe renowned Micawber's Tavern, pictured in 1977. Pic: Archant library

"We feel the need to bring the pub up to date with its food offering - making it family friendly, a hub for the local community and relevant in a modern restaurant landscape. As a company we are planning to improve the profitability of Micawbers by adding a food offering to increase turnover.

"We will endeavour to create employment opportunities for the local area and we are already reaching out to local college catering courses to establish links.

"The pub has great potential we just need to unlock the space in order to make it a thriving business."

The chefs recently formed a new company together called The Chicken Inn but it's not known whether that's going to be the new name of the pub. Changes proposed inside include changing window glass to 'create a warm, inviting atmosphere' and altering mock Tudor lanterns for similar ones without sharp edges for safety.

The original pub sign for Micawbers depicting the character from a Charles Dickens novel. Pic: ArchantThe original pub sign for Micawbers depicting the character from a Charles Dickens novel. Pic: Archant

A council decision is expected in two weeks.

A spokesman for the chefs told this newspaper: "The opening has always been dependent on when the council made its decision, so that is out of Roger Hickman's and Andy Rudd's hands. We will be announcing further details if consent is obtained and there is a date for opening."

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