Thanks to everyone who came along to the COGS Church Hall on Tuesday 2 April to meet Will Farmer. Will, one of the owners of Veterans Brewing, has successfully negotiated a 15 year lease to run part of the Dyke ground floor as a pub again, and he has launched a crowdfunder campaign to raise the extra capital required to cover essential works to the pub so it can be open for business as soon as possible!

Will answered several questions from the local community – both on the night and via email after the event – and his responses are below.

What is the exact space being used as a pub?

The new pub won’t be the entire ground floor – it will be divided into two sections and the pub space will be the left side of the building (when facing it) including the kitchen. The area contains the fire place, two toilets and an additional side door onto Highcroft Villas. The main pub entrance will be from Dyke Road and will be the left door. Upon entering, there will be a dividing wall to the right (separating the pub from the other side of the ground floor).

What will the other side of the pub be?

This is not known and depends on the plans of the owner.

Will there be garden access?

Sadly not. There will be an outside space at the back for storage but the lease does not include a pub garden at this stage. It is hoped that a successful pub will help in future discussions with the owners in expanding the pub size.

Why are you crowdfunding?

It’s mainly to put back what was taken out such as the bar, to help the new business have a fair start. It’s about pre-sales as much as donations – with the rewards you are just buying food and drink upfront, but it will help me with some of the initial costs before there’s any income coming in.

What are you planning to spend the money on?

The bar, as I mentioned, and also it will contribute in a small part towards some of the other main costs – rewiring, a new boiler, installing a new kitchen etc.

Do you have enough money to get it up and running again?

Yes – I’ve put some money in myself, I have some funding from the bank and I have quite a few contacts that will help me reduce the costs of refurbishment. The crowdfunder isn’t essential for me to open the pub but it will help me get all the renovations done in one go, rather than having to close the pub to finish things off at a later date.

What is your experience in the sector?

I’ve been involved in the pub trade for a couple years as I own my own brewery – Veterans brewing – but I’ve always wanted to run my own pub, so I’m really excited. I’ll be employing an experienced manager and I have mentors in the restaurant trade who will be advising me on costs and potential pitfalls

The pub business isn’t easy these days, why do you think the new Dyke will be successful?

There’s clearly strong demand for a pub from the local community. It’s on a great spot with a large catchment area and I have a lot of drive and commitment to make it work. I’m also starting off small, with just half the footprint of the previous pub so I’ll keep costs down to start with. Then if the demand is there and the landlord is open to it, I’d like to expand into the other half and the garden further down the line.

What is your vision for the new pub?

It will be friendly space that will welcome everyone. Comfortable sofas, open fire, a rotating selection of craft ales and beers (including my own), quality wines, a good range of gin and other spirits. Foodwise, most nights we’ll be specialising in high-quality pie and mash/chips and on Sundays we’ll have an award-winning company come in to offer a really good roast including vegetarian options. We’ll also be having guest chefs come in to offer different types of food, pop-up style, and we’re going to put on quiz nights.

What stage are you at at the moment?

I’ve agreed a deal with the landlord, my solicitors are currently working on the legal work. I’ve put in a planning application to change the use class back to pub from retail, I also need to submit a premises licence which will be done in the next two weeks . Once both have been granted, we can sign the deal and get started.

If you decide to pull out, what happens to the crowdfunding money?

Crowdfunder keeps the money until the deal is signed, so if anything goes wrong all the money will be returned to everyone who donated. This is unlikely to happen though as the deal has been agreed and we’ve been advised changing the planning use should be straight forward as it’s restoring the building back to its original use. I’m excited to be breathing new life back into this empty building and I hope it will become a popular new meeting place for the community.

Will the pub be child-friendly and dog-friendly?

Yes to both. This is a community space and all are welcome. It is anticipated that there will be a reasonable cut off point in the evenings when the pub will become child-free.

What will the opening hours be?

The pub will be open seven days a week, and during daytime hours dependent on trade. The more people that use the pub during the day, the easier that it will be to justify opening all day. The pub will shut at 11pm apart from Christmas Eve (midnight) and New Years Eve (1am).

How many covers will the pub manage?

This depends on the council planning and safety regulations – they are currently looking at the plans.

How can the community get involved?

The best thing that you can do it use it! The pub will be offering quiz nights, guest kitchens, good pub grub and spaces/tables that suit all sorts of groups and gatherings. Will is open to suggestions, ideas and proposals – if in doubt, talk to him!

In addition, 10% of the pub profits will be given to a local charity or community group (kids sports kits, school PTA initiatives, local individuals fundraising for charity etc.). Those who pledge more than £50 to the crowdfunder will be invited to help choose these local causes.

If you like the sound of the Dyke Pub returning, then please get involved with Will’s crowdfunding campaign. Some rewards include paying in advance for a bar tab and meals, so you won’t even be out of pocket!

Watch Will’s video and donate at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/reopen-the-dyke