Chef to reopen major hotel that closed amid financial woes
- Credit: Archant
The former Lenwade House Hotel, which shut suddenly a year ago, is to reopen with a new owner and a new name.
Local publican and head chef Dean Critoph bought the striking mock Tudor building and has spent lockdown refurbishing it ready to trade again.
And he is determined to make it a success rather than "a hotel nobody wants to go to".
The hotel in Fakenham Road shut amid financial difficulties which saw staff and also couples who had paid deposits for weddings left in the lurch.
And the venue will start the new era with a new name - the White Pheasant.
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Mr Critoph, who's been involved with running several local pubs such as the Parson Woodforde, Weston Longville, the Fox & Hounds, in Lyng, and the Ratcatchers, in Cawston, believes he can turn around its fortune.
He plans to reopen as soon as coronavirus restrictions lift offering bed and breakfast style accommodation. He's going to be reopening the restaurant, offering meals including a Sunday carvery and will be working himself as the chef.
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He currently has 12 bedrooms ready to go, updating others over time with the aim of having 38 rooms available in the future.
"It was the sort of place I'd always wanted," he said. "I negotiated to buy it over last summer and bought it in early November. I've been refurbishing it over the winter.
"When I first collected the keys and went to have a look, there were five or six white pheasants and my partner said "that's a good name".
Mr Critoph, who has also worked at Dunston Hall in Norwich, said he had teamed up with Woodforde's brewery for the bar. Outside, he's landscaped the gardens.
"I believe hospitality will go with a bit of a bang when lockdown eases, people will want to get out. I want to offer it for weddings again but I'm not going to be spending millions on it. I'm looking to open and then do more as I go along. I'm going for a traditional feel inside that's welcoming.
"I just want to get away from what people read when they google it, get away from it being the hotel nobody wants to go to."
He said he was already taking bookings.
The Lenwade House Hotel suddenly shut down in January 2020. Its last owners took it over after the venue had been closed for more than a year.
Before the last owners it was run by a couple who opened a zoological garden in the extensive grounds.
Animals at the hotel included marmosets, llamas, wallabies and ring-tailed lemurs.