First look inside refurbished Breckland Lodge after it was gutted by fire
- Credit: Archant
Breckland Lodge, the popular hotel and restaurant that burned down earlier this year, reopens tomorrow, with improvements.
Maxine Negus, Lodge director and part of the close Negus family who own and run the establishment, is the first to admit this has been a trying year.
On the morning of Tuesday, February 6, more than 60 firefighters battled to extinguish the flames which spread quickly through Breckland Lodge, which is also known as The Stag, next to the A11 at Attleborough.
Mrs Negus said: 'It was such a successful business and it was just heartbreaking to see the whole thing break down.'
Set up 35 years ago, the site of Breckland Lodge consists of a 33-room hotel, the Stag pub, restaurant and coffee lounge in separate buildings, which range from 100 to five years old.
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Mrs Negus said: 'What's been a big shock to us and very humbling is what the place has meant to the local community. You don't realise what you have until it's gone.'
The Negus family, who also own The George Hotel in Norwich, had been on holiday to celebrate the near completion of The George's renovation when the fire broke out, and were forced to rush back to the UK to survey the damage.
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Mrs Negus said: 'The awful thing is we really had put so much effort in over the last 10 years. It was a bit of a nightmare. Colin Kilby, the general manager, was phenomenal.'
But despite the devastating damage to the decades-old business, the family have taken the opportunity to revive and even improve the Lodge from the ashes of the fire. Mrs Negus said: 'It still feels familiar but with more wow factor.'
While the reception area has been meticulously restored without changes, the main restaurant now has a vaulted ceiling and a new colour scheme, and the coffee lounge has been expanded. Even the bedrooms, which were untouched by the blaze, have been 'freshened up'.
All this has been done while keeping the Lodge's 90 staff on the payroll, with many helping to restore their workplace.
Mrs Negus said they are also looking forward to regaining their local food suppliers for their menu, which remains unchanged. The business had just released a new vegan and gluten free menu prior to the fire which remains.
The restaurant has started taking bookings for December, and is nearly full already.