BUILDING work will start next week on £540,000 refurbishments at two Chester pubs.

The Bouverie in the Garden Quarter and The Handbridge in Handbridge are in line for major makeovers.

Owners Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken’s pub business, and the pubs’ licensees are behind the top-to-toe internal and external upgrades, which will include new lighting and signage.

The work is aimed at increasing capacity to enable the pubs to focus more on food and broaden their appeal.

A total of £200,000 is being invested in The Handbridge, which will be closed for three weeks reopening on the March 1 as a family-friendly local with an all-weather garden.

It will feature three heated beach huts each seating six, a heated covered patio area with seating for 20 and a summer house with room for 20-30 people available to hire for private functions. There will also be new planting and festoon lighting with an area for children to play.

Chester and District Standard:

Adam and Sonja Travers, licensees at The Handbridge.

Inside, The Handbridge is being given a make-over with a redesigned bar as well as new lighting, flooring, furniture and redecorated from top to toe. A specialist pizza oven is also being installed.

The Handbridge has been let to independent licensee, Chester-born Adam Travers. Having started his career as a pot washer at Ye Olde Deva public house he has gone on to run restaurants and bars across the UK1 and been a regional manager for Nandos. In September, he moved back to Chester with his wife Sonja to take on the Handbridge.

Their plans for the family-run business include extending their range of fresh food and drink to include home-made pizzas and cocktails.

Adam said: “The Handbridge was at the end of its previous life when we took it on, but we could see with the planned investment it had real potential. The refurbishment will transform The Handbridge, creating a more comfortable, stylish family friendly local, and bring it in line with the quality of food and drink we offer.

Chester and District Standard:

How exterior of The Handbridge pub will look.

"We’re particularly excited by the outdoor plans as we have the largest beer garden in Chester with room to seat 135 people so there will be lots of different areas for people to make their own or book for functions, especially during the racing season. In July and August, we’ll have an outdoor bar and host barbecues and on bank holiday weekends starting on the first May bank holiday we’ll have live music in the garden."

The Bouverie is to be totally transformed by a £300,000 investment.

Joe Farmer, who owns the award-winning family butchers, The Farmer’s Meats, on Garden Lane has run The Bouverie for the last 18 months during which time he has grown the business significantly.

He is now taking on the pub’s lease and bringing in his brother Chris, to help him take the pub to the next level and realise his ambition to great a stylish local bar offering great food.

The funds are being spent on creating a more luxurious contemporary interior with top quality finishes featuring exposed brick walls, painted panelling and a mixture of decorative tiles and restored timber flooring.

Chester and District Standard:

Chris and Joe Farmer, licensees at The Bouverie.

The eclectic look will be carried through into the lighting and furniture with glass globe and industrial cage style pendant and brass lanterns, a mix of leather and upholstered booth style seating, leather bar stools and industrial and wooden chairs and tables with different table top finishes. The toilets are also being overhauled with new decorative tiles and panelled walls.

Outside, The Bouverie will also be given a makeover with new furniture, planters and fencing as well as festoon lighting, new paving and stepping stones.

Joe and Chris intend to increase the food focus of the pub, using quality local ingredients whenever possible, from local ice cream, and Snowdonia cheese to the meat from Joe’s butchery. One of the benefits of owning a butchery is that the chef can pick the best steak, sausages and black pudding and all the pub’s burgers are freshly made daily. The brothers are also fitness enthusiasts and so will be introducing healthy dishes on the menu.

Joe said: “I am passionate about the Garden Quarter which is growing in popularity and has huge potential. I felt so strongly about having a great pub in the area that I decided to do something about it and took it on. It’s proved a success and 18 months later we’re about to create somewhere local residents can be really proud of and the whole of Chester will love. It will I believe have a real wow factor.

Chester and District Standard:

How The Bouverie's new exterior will look.

“The Bouverie is much more than a business to me. It’s about invigorating the community and helping the Quarter move with the times. It also means a lot to me that Star Pubs & Bars believe in my vision and are investing in the pub to make it a reality.”

Regional operations director, Caren Geering said: “We’re delighted to be investing in Chester in two fantastic pubs, creating comfortable, stylish and sociable places where people of all ages can come together. Both pubs are run by passionate licensees who know their areas well and have high standards. Our investment will help them take their pubs to the next level and ensure that they keep pace with customers’ changing needs and expectations.”