A COUPLE have vowed to make a Totton pub "the heart and soul of the community" following its £200,000 facelift.

The Keys in Commercial Road has reopened following a raft of improvements to the popular watering hole, which occupies a prominent town centre site.

The Grade II-listed pub is run by Phil Merriott and Sarah Whittle, both born and bred at Totton.

Daily Echo: The Keys pub in Commercial Road, Totton.The Keys pub in Commercial Road, Totton.

Their vision for The Keys is to make the building a community hub for friends and families, plus members of sports clubs and charities.

Customers will be greeted by Patch, a rescue dog who is part of the pub's welcoming party.

Last December Phil and Sarah returned from Spain, where they were running a bar, to take over The Keys. They had previously run the nearby Elephant & Castle.

Sarah said: “We were born and raised in Totton and can’t think of anywhere we'd rather be. We had our time in Spain and now we're happy to be back home.

Daily Echo: The interior of The Keys in Commercial Road, Totton.The interior of The Keys in Commercial Road, Totton.

"It’s an exciting time for the pub and we can’t wait to show it off to everyone.

"We missed our regulars while we were closed and look forward to seeing them again, along with lots of new faces.

"Now's the time to make The Keys the hub and heart of the community. We're family-friendly and dog-friendly – Patch loves to meet new four-legged friends.”

Sarah said customers would see a lighter and fresher look to The Keys, with soft furnishings adding to the comfort of the pub. As well as pool, darts and live TV sport, the couple are planning to provide bingo and live music.

An application to upgrade the building was given the go-ahead by New Forest District Council earlier this year.

The authority approved proposals to refurbish the interior by improving the lighting and flooring as well as installing fixed seating and providing new TVs.

Plans to enhance the garden by re-roofing the pergola and providing new heating and lighting units also found favour.

The application cited the "catastrophic impact" of the pandemic on the hospitality and leisure sectors and highlighted the need to maximise the use of outdoor areas.

Daily Echo: The interior of The Keys in Commercial Road, Totton.The interior of The Keys in Commercial Road, Totton.

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