Wetherspoons Bell Hotel in Norwich ready to open with £2m facelift
- Credit: Archant
It has taken five months and £2.35m of investment.
But the Wetherspoon's Bell Hotel has had a facelift and is ready to throw open its doors again.
The fifteenth century building on Orford Hill will reopen after a long hiatus on Tuesday, July 25. It closed on February 26, promising to deliver the 'best pub possible'.
An additional 70 full and part-time jobs have also been created at the pub, bringing the total number of staff to 120.
It has incorporated an additional 1,500 square foot of space from nearby vacant office space, extended the garden and upgraded the cellar, kitchens, toilets and bars.
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'It is very exciting,' said shift manager Andy Thompson ahead of the opening.
'The upstairs bar used to be half the size and we decided to open it out and build a massive bar. The things we really focused on upstairs was accessibility and just making it a bit more comfortable. There is not as many tables squeezed in and it's a lot more of a friendly feel.
'The service in the size of the customer area was a bit tight on Friday and Saturday nights to say the least. A big part of our reinvestment was using office space that had been empty for two years. We have added about 100 new covers in which are really comfortable.
'We are aiming to have 12 rotating craft beers on at all times. Because we are a new opening and have had some investment they have given us a lot of freedom to play with. We are dealing with a lot of local brewers. We will still have traditional ales and our regular lagers of course.
'The garden has been completely levelled. We have had some landscaping and got a lot of fixed benches in. We have installed a beautiful light canopy so at night it is all lit up.
'It is much the same but with a facelift.'
Parts of the Bell Hotel are believed to date back to the 15th century.
It has been known as the Bell Hotel or the Blue Bell since at least 1696 and at one point in the 18th century was renowned for hosting cockfighting.
In the 1750s it was a meeting point for the Hellfire Club, while during the Second World War it was the headquarters for the American Women's Army Air Corps.
After a spell of being shut, it re-opened in 1993, becoming the first JD Wetherspoon venue in Norwich.