See inside new-look White Lion pub in Houghton after £450,000 refit

A Wearside pub has roared back to life after a major £450,000 refit.

The White Lion in Houghton has had a £450k refit
The White Lion in Houghton has had a £450k refit

Husband and wife team, Gary and Kate Bell, have taken on The White Lion pub in Newbottle Street, Houghton, and been working hard to transform the venue into a family pub, with wholesome, hearty food and a broad cocktail and drinks offering.

Both Kate and Gary have a long history of working in the industry.

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Kate joined the Royal Air Force in 2002 where she worked until 2008 as a chef, in everything from fine dining to field catering. Since then, Kate has worked in numerous hospitality and catering positions including party catering, front-of-house in hotels and restaurant management and training.

Gary and Kate Bell took over the site earlier this year. Photos by LWC Drinks Limited/Roberto Payne.

Gary’s worked as a chef throughout his life, working at the Angel at Hetton, the UK’s first ever gastropub, and Salvo’s, in Leeds for the Dammome family.

Whilst working for them, Gary travelled to Italy where he cooked for the Mayor of Palermo, also appearing in the Good Food Guide and on Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word.

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Gary said: “We’ve got lots of vision for The White Lion; our dream is to have a friendly, local pub perfect for families. The menu has been given an overhaul and we hope to work with more local suppliers from local farmers, butchers and seafood suppliers.

"We’ve also invested in our cocktail offering and our staff have undergone mixologist training to offer a range of cocktails for our customers to try.”

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The new look White Lion
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The White Lion has recently introduced a ‘Boozy Brunch’ which includes nine food courses along with a dedicated cocktail pairing to go alongside each dish.

It’s also undergone an eco-friendly refurbishment, using reclaimed, recycled and reused furniture as well as energy-efficient kitchen equipment and appliances in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint.

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The couple also hope to transform some unused roof space into their own herb and vegetable garden which can be used for garnishes and ingredients in the restaurant’s dishes as well as music events in its large beer garden, involvement in the Houghton Annual Feast, and they are currently in talks to renovate the White Lion’s large function room, in the hope of attracting wedding parties and celebrations.

The new look White Lion
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Both Kate and Gary are keen to ensure the White Lion is also used as a community hub; having created a dog-walking group that meets in the pub and have raised money for a children’s football team, The Appleton Lions.

The couple travel to Newcastle each Christmas to give out parcels with food, toothbrushes, and warm clothing to the homeless and this is something they hope to continue through The White Lion, in the form of a food drive this year.

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Kate said: “We’ve got big hopes and big plans and The White Lion has so much potential. Running the pub is honestly the best thing we’ve ever done, and we can’t wait to see what the future brings.

“We’ve had such a good reception from everybody already and we’re absolutely delighted to be able to offer our local community hearty pub dishes, themed nights throughout the week, and a vast drinks menu with everything from quality beers to premium spirits.”

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The new look White Lion

:: The White Lion, a pub from the Dorbiere Pub Group, is open 10am to 12am, seven days a week.

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The new look White Lion
The new look White Lion
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The new look White Lion
The new look White Lion
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The new look White Lion