A TURKISH restaurant will open later this year in an historic Chigwell pub.
Ye Olde Kings Head in the High Road, which was bought by entrepreneur Alan Sugar in April, will be run by Dylan Hunt, who will move his Buckhurst Hill restaurant Sheesh there.
Famous visitors to the pub are said to have included Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and highway man Dick Turpin.
Lord Sugar’s son, Daniel, who runs the Loughton-based property company Amsprop that will continue to own the building, said that he would restore the pub, which is said to be 600 years old, working closely with English Heritage and spending “a lot of money” on it.
“By the end of the year, it’s going to look absolutely amazing,” he added. “The building, I think, has been frankly neglected for many years and there is going to be a substantial refurbishment. It will probably be finished by mid-November this year.
“I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised.”
Mr Hunt said: “I have been looking for somewhere else for a long time. Daniel Sugar comes into the restaurant a lot and he mentioned it to me.
“I have opened up a barn-sized space on the side of the pub, which has a 50-foot ceiling and I’m taking two floors out to create a big space that will be a kitchen and a bar.”
He added that although there would be a bar and entertainment in the restaurant, this would only be for diners.
“There will be entertainment for after dinner and hopefully a few celebrities.”
A former regular at the pub, Glen Buckingham, 58, of Oak Lodge Avenue, Chigwell, said: “There are no pubs left in Chigwell, except the King William IV.
"It’s ridiculous around here now. It used to be a village and now there are flats everywhere.”
Peter Price, 55, of Hainault, said: “There was a restaurant upstairs before and it would seem that would be enough.
“I think it’s a shame to lose the pub, but it will be interesting to see how it does.”
Stewart Alexander, 54, of Linkside, Chigwell, said: “It’s another nail in the coffin. It’s a shame to lose a pub.”