Pub Transforms Old Junk Into New Garden Bar and Stage

Posted: 30 July 2014

A quirky new garden bar and stage made entirely from reclaimed materials has been unveiled at The Dove at Dargate, near Faversham.

The country pub, owned by Shepherd Neame, dates back to the 18th century and was taken over in November last year by licensee Chris Johnson and his partner Dee.

They have already made their mark with the á la carte menu created by head chef Ben Johnson, Chris’ son, which has received rave reviews from the likes of MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace, and accolades including a listing in the Michelin Guide and Good Food Guide.  And now they are offering a more casual dining experience with a barbecue menu including homemade burgers and locally sourced hotdogs and steaks on offer at the new outside bar.

Customers can enjoy their food al fresco in the picturesque garden while watching entertainment on the new Little Dove stage.  The bar and stage have been created entirely from reclaimed materials with the help of Dargate artist and pub regular Jeremy Hagues, who makes furniture from discarded materials.

Chris, 48, said: “We decided to add the outside bar and stage as the pub has a beautiful garden which was really being under-utilised. We got together with Jeremy, who was kind enough to offer his help for free, and scrounged absolutely everything!  “The front of the stage is made out of old gates and gas burner rings, and we used old hop poles to create the bar, decorating it with lights in old bed springs and other unusual bits of junk.  Our griddle is a manhole cover, and we have an old safe as the store for our spirits and soft drinks.” 

Jeremy, 53, said: “My son Albert works at The Dove, and my wife Sarah and I recently held our wedding celebration in its garden, so the pub is really special to us and I was delighted to help.  Chris and I make a good partnership, and I am really proud of what we have created at The Dove. Hopefully it will make people smile.”

It took just eight weeks to complete the work, and the first live music event was held on the Little Dove stage earlier this month. Chris said: “The garden was packed with people, and everyone said how much they enjoyed the evening. Even if the weather is bad we can still use the garden, as we have an old parachute which can cover all the tables and chairs, and there is an awning at the front of the bar to shelter customers.”

Chris added: “We are planning to rent out the garden for private parties and functions, and eventually introduce a pizza oven behind the outside bar to increase the food we can offer. It is such a great space, the possibilities are endless!”