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Landmark Pub Closes for £475,000 Refurbishment

A landmark local pub on the banks of the Grand Union Canal is set to close for more than two months whilst a major £475,000 refurbishment is carried out.  

The investment at The Bear on the Barge on Moorfield Road between Harefield and Denham will transform it into a great quality, family-friendly bar and restaurant. The pub will be renamed The River Garden to mark its new direction under new management and reflect its stunning waterside garden, which is the largest in the area.  

The investment is being undertaken by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars and local pub operators Arusha Group. Work starts on 13th September, and The River Garden is scheduled to open in early December, creating 30 new jobs.  

Outside work will renovate and repaint the building, adding new lighting, signage and planters to enhance the area. A new patio with café-style furniture seating 30 will complete the changes at the front. A stretch tent for all-weather eating and drinking and an adult games area are planned for the pub’s 600-seater rear garden in time for next summer. 

A total revamp of the interior will keep all its character whilst upgrading it throughout and making it more contemporary and stylish. The building will be opened up to create additional seating for 50 people. To cater for all occasions, it will have separate bar and dining areas as well as a new private dining room. Features such as an open fire and wood floors will be retained and restored, and rich warm colours will be used along with velvet and leather upholstery. 

An overhaul of the kitchen will enable The River Garden to offer a wide choice of freshly made food, which will use locally sourced ingredients. The all-day menu will include traditional pub favourites, Sunday lunches and a la carte dining. Pizzas – made in the venue’s own wood-fired pizza oven – will be a specialty.  

New managers Julie Lutynska and Maurizio Cimo say they would like the The River Garden to be “an asset to the community”. To that end, they will provide meeting space for local organisations and are keen to host fundraisers for local charities. The duo also want to maintain the venue’s historic links with walkers, cyclists, canal users and dog walkers. A new barista-quality coffee machine will serve hot drinks throughout the day, and afternoon teas will also be available. Customers’ four-legged friends have not been forgotten either and will have their own doggy treats, ice cream and water.  

Says Julie: “The pub is well-known, and there’s lots of interest in its future. The garden is already fantastic. The refurbishment will give The River Garden a beautiful new look to match. With celebrating in pubs and restaurants heavily restricted or off the cards altogether last Christmas, people are desperate to celebrate out this year. We’re busy planning all kinds of events to make the 2021 festive season extra special when we open. We can’t wait to welcome everyone.” 

Adds Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager James Hulston: “We’re delighted to join forces with the Arusha Group to invest in such a high-profile site. The garden has proved a lifeline for many throughout the pandemic. The refurbishment will give people lots more reasons to visit, whether they’re after a family meal, early evening cocktails or a special occasion celebration. Julie and Maurizio’s plans are really exciting. We wish them all the best!”