A landmark community pub in the heart of Hull is about to enjoy ‘a golden year’, according to the father-and-son team who are reviving its fortunes.


The Punch Hotel is back on the city’s hospitality map thanks to investment totalling £140,000 from Pub Partners Bryan and Chris Forrest and owner Hawthorn, the community pub company.


And reaction from customers since the well-known pub reopened has been overwhelmingly positive, with people enjoying new outside areas at the front and rear of the Grade II-listed building, in Queen Victoria Square.


Now Chris, who with dad Bryan took on The Punch Hotel in October 2019, just five months before the first coronavirus lockdown, predicts a bright future for the new-look venue: “I think there’s a golden year ahead for us. People are so fed-up with being locked down they’re desperate to get out and enjoy themselves.


“In the few days since we reopened we’ve had some really positive feedback, both in person and via social media, including from younger people who in the past wouldn’t have considered The Punch Hotel as a place for them.


“The reaction has been overwhelming, really,” added Chris, who with his father runs a local scaffolding business. “People can’t believe it’s the same pub. Everyone who’s seen it loves it, and we’re very proud of what we’ve achieved. Outside was completely full on our first weekend, and we’re expecting to be really busy during the Bank Holiday, too.”


Covered and lit outdoor seating for more than 100 people has been provided at the front and rear of the 125-year-old pub as part of a £140,000 refurbishment that has seen it redecorated and get a new bar, signage, lighting and furniture.


Community pub company Hawthorn, which owns more than 700 pubs across England, Scotland and Wales, contributed £90,000 to the scheme; with Chris and Bryan adding their own £50,000.


Run by experienced manager Shaun Curtis with four local staff, including two chefs, The Punch Hotel will reopen fully when Covid-19 restrictions are further lifted on 17 May, when a new food menu featuring freshly-cooked dishes will be introduced.


“It’ll be full-steam ahead on that date,” said Chris, “but 21 June, when all restrictions are lifted, is the one we’re looking forward to the most, and we’re planning to reintroduce live entertainment on Friday and Saturdays nights.”


Andrew Parker, Director of Leased and Tenanted Operations at Hawthorn, said: “As locals, Chris and Bryan know how important The Punch Hotel is to people in Hull, and they possess the drive and enthusiasm to make it a popular community hub once more.


“It had been unloved for many years, catering to an older group of customers, but now it’s attracting a younger crowd, too, while at the same time rekindling the memories of those older people who remember it the way it used to be.


“Hawthorn is delighted to be able to help Chris and Bryan revive the fortunes of this landmark community pub, which, with investment designed to carry it through Covid and beyond, we expect to be a huge success.”

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