A popular Accrington club is set to close for a “major” £287,000 refurbishment before reopening under new management.
The Whitakers Arms, on Burnley Road, will be transformed into a “great quality family-friendly pub that caters for the whole community”. The project is being undertaken by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and will see Vanessa Wolfenden take the helm as the licensee alongside husband Jamie.
Work starts on Monday (January 15)and the pub will reopen in mid February, creating 10 new jobs. The overhaul will carefully renovate the outside of the old sandstone pub with new lighting, signage and planting, enhancing the area. The large rear garden will be kitted out with new furniture.
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A complete internal makeover will upgrade the “dated” pub throughout to make it “more warm, welcoming and contemporary”. The smart new décor will incorporate wood flooring, booth seating and feature wallpaper and lighting.
To cater for all occasions, The Whitakers Arms will have a traditional bar, a comfortable lounge and dining area and a games zone complete with a new pool table, darts and a high spec AV system showing BT and TNT Sports. A 70-seater function room will be retained and revamped to become a major part of The Whitakers.
Boasting the largest function room of any food pub in the vicinity, it will accommodate meetings and gatherings such as christening parties and wakes. A kitchen refit will enable Vanessa and her team to serve all-day food focused on pub classics such as burgers, fish & chips and Sunday roasts.
Bosses said the dishes will be “affordable but good quality” with a separate menu for children. Customers with four-legged friends have not been forgotten either, and will be offered free treats, bowls of water and even their own doggy menu.
Vanessa said she wants The Whitakers Arms to be “a hub of the community” and to that end will run a host of activities to bring residents together, ranging from bingo and senior citizens coffee mornings to quiz nights and live entertainment. On the cards too, are family fun days and special events for children at Christmas and Halloween.
With The Whitakers Arms focus’ on sports, ultra runner and rugby player Vanessa and her husband Jamie Wolfenden – who is into football – are keen to hear from anyone who would like to join pool or darts teams. Vanessa will also open up the pub as meeting space for local groups and good causes and run fundraisers in aid of charities selected with the help of regulars.
Vanessa, who has previously had her own sports therapy business for many years, said: “It’s a dream come true. Jamie and I have always wanted a pub and have been looking for the right place for a year.
“I knew The Whitakers was ‘the one’ as soon as I walked in. It’s rundown but has got lots of character and potential, all it needs is some TLC.
“It will look amazing after all the investment it’s getting. I’m incredibly excited and can’t wait to open the doors.”
Chris Newsham, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager for Accrington, said: “We’re delighted to be joining forces with Vanessa to give The Whitakers Arms a new lease of life. We’re giving it ‘the works’ to really broaden its appeal and develop a fantastic pub for people to enjoy.
“Vanessa is full of enthusiasm and very hospitable. Her plans for The Whitakers are spot on – it will be a top notch local with something for everyone.”
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