Pub closed for nine years to reopen after £1m revamp
PUBLISHED: 13:12 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:50 20 January 2020
Gunton Arms owner Ivor Braka is preparing to reopen a rural north Norfolk pub later in the year after a £1m revamp.
The Suffield Arms in Thorpe Market, near North Walsham, has been closed for nine years.
It is located opposite Gunton train station on the Norwich to Sheringham Bittern Line, and Mr Braka said a van could run every hour connecting his two pubs, which are less than two miles apart.
Mr Braka, who is an art dealer, said: "It's going to be exciting. It was a very popular pub before it closed. It had a longer bar than normal, which people loved, and I'm going to continue that.
"We are looking to reopen after the summer."
He has spent upwards of £1m on the refurbishment, which has included a new walled garden.
He said: "We wanted to preserve the neat symmetry of the original building and you can hide the extension behind the walled garden. It's also needed for shelter.
"The appearance of the pub is going to very traditional. The food will be different from the Gunton Arms. It will be more Mediterranean, especially Spanish, with tapas.
"We won't have bedrooms so there will be less staff than the Gunton Arms. The pub will probably seat 75, so we are looking at 16 to 18 staff, and we hope to open every day. "
Mr Braka is a keen supporter of pubs, and added: "I believe in pubs. The parish church and village pub used to characterise England for foreigners and locals. And while church-going is diminishing, even with the draconian drink-drive laws, people will still go to a nice pub.
"My vision of hell would be if towns and villages were better known for Starbucks, coffee chains, internet cafés and pub chains. That would be a tragedy on the high street."
The Suffield Arms has been a pub since at least 1889, and villagers enjoyed walking to it across countryside, whereas the Gunton Arms was beside a dangerous road with no footpath.
The Gunton Arms was chosen as Michelin Pub of the Year in 2013.