Wedding receptions, parties and other functions which were booked at a Wearside pub that shut without warning, will now be honoured after a former employee stepped in to take over the running of the venue.
The Copt Hill, in Houghton’s Seaham Road, closed last month – with a number of couples who had hoped to celebrate their weddings left counting the cost.
Attempts by those affected to get deposit cash back from the previous landlord has been unsuccessful.
Many had put down £100 payments to reserve specific days, some more than 18 months in advance.
However, the pub and restaurant’s former bar manager Dan Hindson says he will be re-opening the Enterprise-owned site within days and hopes to “build bridges” with those affected.
“The Copt Hill is a very popular pub and a big part of the Houghton community in my opinion,” said 42-year-old Mr Hindson, who has run The Smiths Arms, in Lumley, near Chester-le-Street, for the past two years.
“All it needs is putting back together.
“I know the pub has a lot of a sentimental value to many people, maybe because they’ve come to parties or other special events here over the years, or have been regularly for a drink.”
Mr Hindson added that the venue under his management will honour any functions which had been booked there.
Many people have been left angry and disappointed by the lack of communication from those previously running the pub. Readers took to the Echo’s Facebook page and our website saying they had been given no notice that it was being closed, leaving them to scramble to find alternative arrangements.
Couples Faye Dougherty and Lee Canning, of Seaham, and Stacey Turnbull and her fiancé Mark Egan, from South Hetton, were due to have their wedding receptions at the Copt Hill in August.
A sign left on its front door last week read: “We apologise, but due to unforeseen circumstances we will be closed until further notice.”
Appealing to those affected to come and speak to him, Mr Hindson said: “I appreciate that people may not have confidence in the place right now, but I’m putting the olive branch out there.
“If I can help out in any way then I will do.
“This place needs to build some bridges with people again and hopefully we can do.
“If people who have bookings want to come and speak to me then I’m sure we can sort things out.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
It is hoped that the Copt Hill’s bar and restaurant will re-open next Tuesday, with cleaning work under way to get its rooms spick and span.
The venue has space for about 30 people in the restaurant and between 80 to 100 in the function room.
It also features a beer garden.
“I don’t like to use the term ‘destination venue’, but the Copt Hill is,” said Mr Hindson. “There are great views of the area from up here and I’d encourage people who maybe haven’t been for a while to come along and give us a go when we open up.
“I’ve got a deep clean team in to sort out the kitchen, and a good head chef who I’ve worked with on and off for years will be joining us.”
The Copt Hill, which is close to Houghton Golf Club and boasts impressive views of the town, is also on the lookout for additional bar and restaurant staff once it re-opens in a few days’ time.
“I feel sorry for the staff who’ve been affected by what has happened because I worked with some of them when I was here a few years ago,” said Mr Hindson.
“None of this is their fault and they’ve been caught up in things a bit.
“Hopefully people know I can run places well from what I’ve done at the Smiths Arms and I’ll be able to make a success of the Copt too.”
Anyone wanting to speak to Mr Hindson about bookings placed with the previous management should call 584 4485.