Chester locals benefit from £540,000 investment


Building work is underway on major refurbishments of two Chester pubs, The Bouverie in the garden quarter and The Handbridge in Handbridge, a £540,000 investment in the city’s pubs by Star Pubs & Bars and the pubs’ licensees. 

Both pubs are having a top-to-toe internal and external upgrade which will increase capacity and enable the pubs to focus more on food. Both exteriors will also be redecorated with new lighting and signage.

£200,000 is being invested in The Handbridge, which will be closed for three weeks reopening on the 1st March as a family friendly local with a stunning all-weather garden, the largest beer garden in Chester.  It will feature three heated beach huts each seating six, a heated covered patio area and a summer house available to hire for private functions.  There will also be new planting and an area for children to play.

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

The Handbridge has been let to independent licensee, Chester born and bred 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 UK 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.  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 in the Garden Quarter is to be totally transformed by a £300,000 investment.  It will take the pub from a community local to a destination bar with dining. Joe Farmer, who owns the local multi 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 of a great a stylish local bar offering great food. 

The pub will feature a luxurious, contemporary interior with top quality finishes featuring exposed brick walls and timber flooring. The eclectic look will carry through to the lighting and furniture, which will feature a mix of leather upholstery, brass and wood. 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 on the day. 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.  

“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 vison and are investing in the pub to make it a reality.”