Setting the bar with £400k refurb

Hannah and Martin Horner at The Lodge
Hannah and Martin Horner at The Lodge

Time waits for no man, as they say, and neither does the 
hospitality industry.

As large chains grapple with a rapidly changing pub landscape, Lancaster publicans Martin and Hannah Horner are continuing to set the bar with their promise of “fine ale, food, wine and rooms.”

The couple bought the building that housed The Blob Shop in Dalton Square, in 2006, and transformed it into one of Lancaster’s favourite bars – The Borough.

As well as investing heavily into new bedrooms and suites at The Borough, the couple have now just bought the lease of rural hotel, restaurant and pub The Slyne Lodge, aiming to give it their own distinct quality mark when it re-opens as The Lodge in August.

Martin said they would be investing £400,000 into the building, and would be keeping current employees, while taking on an extra 20 full-time staff.

“We’ve always had our eye out for something like this, and we’ve looked at lots of other places,” Martin said.

“The thing that most attracted us was the location, and the new link road is certainly going to help improve access.

“The building itself feels a lot like when we first took on the Borough – it’s just got huge potential. We’re going to bring some of the original features back to life, and there’s a big bay window view of Morecambe Bay that was previously covered up by a flat screen TV.

“We’ve got 100 covers here at The Borough, but the Slyne Lodge has 150 covers just in the dining room. There’s plans for a kids play area, and we want to be family friendly. It currently has 10 rooms but there’s room for another eight on the top floor.”

The building is owned by Marston’s, which owns Lake District brewery Jennings.

Martin said he was in talks with the company to bring in Borough Brewery beers as guest ales.

Hannah said: “It’s had quite a few landlords over the last few years, but we intend to make it our own and put some passion back into it.

“The menu will be similar, we’re going to do the same offers, like the school dinners menu, and we’re scrapping the Sunday carvery.

“We’ll be championing local produce and we plan to re-open for a launch party on August 8, which is also Martin’s birthday.”

As well as the plans for The Lodge, the couple are also set to further expand The Borough.

Martin said: “We took the building next door from the council on a long lease, that enabled us to knock through, and the rooms opened last year.

“We then bought the house at the back, and we’re half way to developing that into three more suites.

“The coach house at the back of the pub will become two suites, and that will give us a total of 14 rooms.”

A new garden, designed by Chris Hodgson of Cedar Hill Landscapes in Arkholme, is planned for next summer and will see more covered outdoor eating areas and a significant water feature running through the space.

Hannah added: “We’ve been really busy, and our occupancy is better than we initially thought at 95 per cent.

“We get a lot of people staying from the university and the power station, and there’s a lot of people that stop here on the way up to Scotland, which is really great to see as that has been the big push, getting people to come to Lancaster and see what it has to offer.

“We will have invested 10s of thousands of pounds in the new outside space and we’re really excited to seeing it open next summer.

“The more we’ve done, the more confidence we’ve had to take on more.

“People are definitely very supportive.”