Grade II-listed Millstone Inn at Barnack lives again after budget-busting revamp
Villagers' long wait to visit their local will end tomorrow (Wednesday) when the revamped Millstone Inn opens its doors once more.
After an invitation-only 'soft opening' last weekend to thank neighbours, Barnack Parish Council and supporters, the new-look inn officially opens at noon.
The first lockdown appeared to signal the end for the Millstone which was put on the market last August by Leicester-based Everards, prompting the community to launch a campaign to save their last remaining pub.
Up stepped Stamford businessman Paul McSorley who bought it for £370,000 in January at the start of the third national lockdown.
He earmarked £250,000 to firstly renovate and restore the pub, and then the courtyard barn, although work in phase one has exceeded its budget.
“It’s cost me more than we would have liked, but it’s been a very rewarding experience," said Paul.
“We are a few weeks later than we wanted to be, but in the big scheme of things we are lucky to be in this position."
The restoration of a Grade II-listed building, including new flooring, ceilings and bar, new parking access and an overhaul of plumbing and electrics, was never likely to be straightforward, particularly when you throw a global pandemic into the mix.
The pub has been stripped back and its layout opened up, but still features a separate main bar, locals bar, snug and restaurant, as well as a new outdoor bar.
“They are very distinct areas,” Paul explained.
“They all flow into each other, but have their own identity. It has different offers for different clientele.
“It has been harder work than I thought it would be, but we’ve been really lucky in terms of the reaction of the village and the people I have met. They have been incredibly supportive."
The pub will open five days a week initially, from Wednesday to Sunday, and extend to six days after a bedding-in period.
And it seems after 18 months without its pub, a queue is already forming.
"We opened our blinds yesterday for the first time and had 75 bookings in 15 minutes and two walk-ins," Paul added.
The second phase of the development - hoped to be complete by the end of September - will involve a major restoration of the barn, with plans to include a country store, café and function room.
This was a completely new venture for Paul who runs a development business in Stamford and a Dubai-based sports travel company, and the experience was an eye-opener.
“I would do it again if I could bring the same people with me - I’ve really enjoyed the people side of it,” he said.
“And the reaction we have had is really positive and we are very happy with the end result.”