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£2m investment realises Broads business dream

PUBLISHED: 12:35 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 12:35 25 April 2014

The Boathouse next to Ormesby Broad.
Michael and Belinda Minors.

Picture: James Bass

The Boathouse next to Ormesby Broad. Michael and Belinda Minors. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

A Norfolk businessman has realised his dream of creating a paradise wedding venue and destination pub/restaurant in the heart of the Broads.

Mike Minors, who built his career as managing-director of Hugh J Boswell insurance brokers in Norwich, has sunk more than £2m into the two-year project to convert the former Eels Foot pub on the bank of Ormesby Broad near Great Yarmouth.

The venue, renamed The Boathouse, will provide jobs for 35 full and part-time staff and is being hailed as a symbol of the resurgent confidence in Norfolk tourism, as highlighted in the latest Larking Gowen Tourism Business Survey which reported increasing willingness to invest.

The first wedding successfully went ahead two weeks ago and the pub/restaurant opens on Monday.

More than 75 weddings have already been booked with brides being offered the chance to arrive at the venue - in a site special scientific interest - by Edwardian launch.

Mr Minors is continuing as a director of Hugh J Boswell but will now be focusing more of his energies on The Boathouse, which he will be running with his wife Belinda.

The couple also run The Waterside, a restaurant and boat trip venue on neighbouring Rollesby Broad which they opened following a £500,000 investment four years ago.

Mr Minors said: “The Eels Foot came up for sale two years ago and, originally, the idea of buying it was to protect our investment at The Waterside.

“However, I saw an opportunity to develop it further into a wedding and conference venue as well as retaining the existing pub and restaurant.”

He said the reaction from couples looking for a wedding venue had been “very positive”; in the near future he would be talking to local companies about The Boathouse’s potential as a meetings and conference venue for up to 200 delegates.

“It is a very inspirational place with tranquil waters and surroundings,” he said.

The Boathouse also offers six double ensuite bedrooms as well as two three-bedroom log lodges in the grounds.

“There is potential for further development in years to come,” he said.

The pub will offer four real ales at the outset, one named The Boathouse and another Eels Foot ale in homage to the former business; they have been brewed by The Wolfe Brewery in Attleborough.

Mr Minors said: “We will be focusing on traditional pub grub with gastro dining in the evening. A reasonably large amount of the produce will be provided by local suppliers. We see this becoming a destination restaurant with people coming from all over Norfolk and further afield.”

Over time, they will be looking to develop The Waterside to complement The Boathouse; a shop will be added to the Rollesby site next year and a Broads museum is in the plans further down the line.

Mr Minors, who now employs more than 50 people across both sites, said he was reassured to see other investment taking place in the Broads.

Nick Ward, of Larking Gowen, said: “The 2014 Tourism Business Survey revealed that one in two businesses were planning to carry out site improvements such as refurbishment to improve performance and grow their businesses this year.

“Businesses looking to grow should be aware that there are a number of specific grants available in our region which can provide much needed financial support.”

He said the creation of jobs in the area not only stimulated the recovering economy, it represented a growing optimism in the region.

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