A message from Marc Phuket proud owner of the Red Lion
I’d dreamed of having my own pub for over 20 years, and had looked at hundreds.
I was offered The Red Lion & so went to visit, In a flash I knew it was perfect – even though it had earned its nickname “The Dead Lion”.
The warmth and atmosphere of the 600-year-old building just oozed out at me.
With the level of disrepair it meant a blank canvas. A chance to start afresh, unleashing all the ideas I’d bottled up for decades to create the vibrant, character pub of my dreams.
The design and decor had long been worked out in my mind during years of searching for that special place I longed for amid disappointments and let-downs.
I’m a builder by trade, but I’m also known for my artistic flair as a tailor, designer, welding engineer etc and I thrive on a challenge.
So in just two and a half weeks, with the help of a labourer (Lukas), I was able to give the poor, lifeless Lion enough of the TLC it needed to get back on its feet and open its doors again.
From building and design, to my own quirky colour scheme, along with finishing touches – right down to the swags and tails of the curtains and the framed prints on the walls, all of which I hand made.
I knew what I wanted it to be: A warm and charming old character pub with both piped and live jazz playing. A truly authentic Thai kitchen, complemented by bamboo and Thai ornaments. I added two elephants to my new pub sign to reflect the name of our professional chefs, who trade as Elephant Thai.
I wanted to create an atmosphere to make people keen to come back for more.
After many years drinking, dining and spending too much time in bars around the world, I learned what I didn’t want my pub to be.
I decided to give customers all those simple touches that I’d found lacking in other places: A place to hang your jacket. Somewhere to charge your phone. A mirror in the gents. More than one basin in the ladies. Lots of glitzy bling, Oh, and enough toilet rolls!
Decent WiFi. Lighting that isn’t too bright. Music that isn’t too loud. Enough seating. An inviting, cosy garden with sunny spots to bask in & a children’s play area.
Of course, the bigger issues too… Welcoming staff. Food that is consistently good each time you visit and served without a long wait. A good choice of interesting beers & wines, plus premium gins, whiskies and vodkas.
The local pub trade has been fading rapidly in recent years. A heritage to uphold & a true British tradition. Happy to do my bit I was eager to take on the challenge. I don’t want my grandchildren asking, ‘Grandad, what’s a pub?’
The final key to the Red Lion’s new lease of life is Dave, my manager. His rapport with customers made him my No1 choice to be the ‘main’ man behind the bar and share my vision.
We have breathed new life into the old dead Lion – and with the support of the local community we can make it the roaring success it deserves to be. My dream come true… and the pride of Rusthall. A toast to you all.