Chris and James Tanner acquire Kent pub

03 April 2014 by
Chris and James Tanner acquire Kent pub

Restaurateurs Chris and James Tanner have bought a pub in Kent, which will become the latest addition to their growing portfolio of businesses when it opens in May this year.

The brothers have spent £1.5m in an extensive redevelopment of the Victorian free house, which is to be renamed from the Hare and Hounds to the Kentish Hare. It is located in Bidborough, between Tonbridge and Royal Tunbridge Wells.

The kitchen was designed and installed from scratch and will include a new bespoke induction and plancha suite from Control Induction, convection ovens, built-in floor drains, resin set floors and a Kamado Joe ceramic grill.

"We planned it ourselves," said James. "This has been a massive investment for us."

The pub with food incorporates two bar areas. The public bar (which will be dog-friendly) will serve tapas-style bar snacks to match local ales and will serve wines by the glass or carafe.

The second bar, with dining tables, has been designed with recycled semi-industrial lighting in green and grey tones and natural brick, with an open fire and a small private dining area.

A traditional vaulted ceiling conservatory will house the restaurant and lead through to a wooden terrace with outside seating and a landscaped garden.

"We will have capacity for over 100 including the external space and 50/60 covers in the restaurant," said Chris.

"The plan has always been to have something in the South East where we grew up and we hope to be able to provide a place for the locals to have a great meal or a simple bar snack with a local Kentish ale or lager. Our first locally made beer is called the Kentish Hare."

With plans to change the ales regularly, the brothers hope to create a menu that combines ingredients from Kent and the South West, where they have their other businesses: Tanners and the Barbican Kitchen in Plymouth, and the Farm Shop and adjoining Str. Eat counter (opening this weekend) in Looe, Cornwall.

"We've worked with Sam Spratt, our head chef at the pub, to develop a menu that has the best ingredients from the South East and the South West," said James.

"Some days we will be able to have fantastic line-caught sea bream on the menu and we will definitely have our local crab from Nippers in Looe. But we will also look to list products like Buckhurst partridge and Belhurst sausages. We want to celebrate the ingredients we grew up with, and with mum and dad still living up the road we will have to do it well."

Chris said one of biggest benefits was the development opportunities it has allowed the Tanners' extended team, both front and back of house.

"It's meant that they have been able to move around and experience real craft skills such as filleting fish and butchering meat in Tanners and the Farm Shop, with Warrens Butchers from Launceston, to fine dining in Tanners, 150 covers at the Barbican and now casual dining in a country pub in Kent," he said.

James added: "This seems like a natural progression for us as businessmen and restaurateurs. The pub has a strong association with our childhood but it's also only 40 minutes away from London so as Chris and I continue to manage our businesses and I continue my media work, maybe London is where we will go next."

The Kentish Hare will open on 10 May 2014.

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