The owner of the North East’s first boutique bowling venue Lane7 has announced his second venture is to be a County Durham country pub.
Tim Wilks, who launched Lane7 in Newcastle last year, is to partner chef Ellie Richmond and bar manager Jack Bowles in the opening of The Fox Hole, on the site of the former Carlbury Arms in Piercebridge, west of Darlington.
The site is currently being given a £250,000 overhaul, which, once opened later this summer, will create up to 15 new full and part time jobs.
The Fox Hole team is using the same designer that created the interior for Lane7, which has recently been shortlisted for an international award for its striking design.
Mr Wilks said: “Ellie and Jack are two people I have known privately for some time.
“Their knowledge, skills and unnerving commitment to great service impress me greatly. Their plans to run their own pub and dining operation matched our eagerness to expand our own leisure operations.
“We acquired the Carlbury Arms earlier this year and we’re now busy putting our own unique stamp on it. This will be every inch the welcoming village pub, but we’ll also add some special touches that will bring it bang up to date.”
A contemporary open kitchen is being installed to cater for diners, while the aptly-named ‘wellie bar’, will offer a much more relaxed space.
Further drinking and dining spaces, including an expansive new pub garden, are also being created.
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Mr Wilks added: “The village pub needs to be the focal point of that village and we very much hope The Fox Hole is a facility that those living in and around Piercebridge will find attractive.
“It’s with these people in mind that we’ve created this.”
The bar manager and chef first met while working under Masterchef star, John Torode at Smiths of Smithfield in London, and say they want to craft a simple, unpretentious pub and dining venue.
Miss Richmond, who spent more than five years under the tutelage of Frances Atkins at the Michelin-starred Yorke Arms in North Yorkshire, said: “For me, a great village pub means serving great food and drinks that aren’t intimidating, but will also add something that tempts people to try something different.
“Diners should expect traditional and contemporary British favourites on their plates which I’ll be adding my own special touches to.”
Mr Bowles has held management roles at a number top venues in the capital, including the award-winning Terroirs wine bar in central London.
He said: “I’m really excited about bringing my own thoughts on what that entails into play at The Fox Hole. “We’re recruiting now for people who will share that vision.
“We’ll have different rooms for the range of drinkers and diners we anticipate welcoming. This will be a place where we want a farmer in from the fields to feel as welcome as a family out for tea or cyclists stopping off for coffee and cake. There’s room for everyone.”
For Miss Richmond, who has a ten-month-old son with Jack, The Fox Hole marks a return home after a 20-year absence, having grown up in Stokesley and Darlington.
The former Barnard Castle School pupil added: “Jack and I have been keen to have our name above the door of our own place, so this partnership with Tim is perfect in all senses. I feel very much back at home now and we’re itching to get in and get the doors open.”