A POPULAR Southampton pub saved from closure by campaigners is on the brink of reopening.
The Bittern faced the same fate as so many others across the city.
But once the local community found out that pub was to be shut they launched a high profile campaign to save it.
And next week marks the start of a new chapter in the future of the 80-year-old hostelry in Thornhill.
The Bittern hit the headlines when residents launched a public crusade to save it after plans were revealed to turn it into a McDonald’s restaurant.
That was successful after a public inquiry rejected the fast food brand’s plans.
Residents then applied to the city council and with the support of regulars, it was granted special status as an Asset of Community Value in September 2015.
After initially putting the pub on the market in 2013, owners Punch Taverns have now decided to invest in the local boozer and have carried out £460,000 refurbishment.
The venue is set to reopen on June 3 – with 10 new members of staff.
Landlord Glen McInnes, pictured, who has been at The Bittern for the last three years, will continue to run it with his wife Hayley.
He said: “The refurbishment has attracted lots of attention locally with our regulars counting down the days to the official re-opening. The Bittern has always been a popular pub and our loyal customers deserve an improved pub experience. I’m sure they will be pleased with the changes that are being made.
“The Bittern will still be a family-friendly venue with plenty to keep everyone happy from weekly promotions through to a fantastic new menu and a full entertainments calendar including live music, Sky Sports, karaoke nights and pool. I’m hoping to expand our pub teams to get a darts and football team alongside our pool team too. I’m looking forward to showing off the new-look Bittern and welcoming customers old and new when we reopen.”
Punch openings manager Craig Taylor said: “This is a significant investment and one that is going to make a huge difference to the pub’s appearance and the overall offer to customers. The Bittern is a great community pub offering a warm welcome to all with a substantial food and drink offer and a regular calendar of events to bring the community together. I’m confident that Glen, Hayley and their team have what it takes to build on the Bittern’s success and wish them well for the future.”
Resident Margo O’Flynn, 51, who works at the Thornhill Co-op said: “I’m very happy. I’ve been going to the pub for about 12 years. We’ve seen the plans and the new menu and it’s a very good selection. We really can’t wait. We helped them campaign with fun days and fundraisers.
“It will definitely improve the area a lot and it will attract more families with the garden. Even people who have just moved to the area are asking about it.”
Donna Phillips, 38, works at Thornhill Park post office and said: “I’m really pleased it will stay as a pub. It would have been awful as a McDonald’s because the road is just too busy. It’s a good thing and everyone’s really quite pleased.”
The refurbishment includes new decor, with an updated kitchen, toilets and children’s play area.