Start-Up Loan helps to bring a new lease of life to Polegate gastropub

Vibrant, family-friendly community pub, The Junction, opens in Polegate following support from a start-up loan. The project will revive a run-down pub into a community hub for local residents as well as creating several jobs, a significant contribution to the local economy.

In the Junction’s first week of opening, sales were well above expectations as it opened its doors to customers with a soft opening and ‘teaser’ food menu.

Formerly known as The Junction Hotel and The Junction Inn, the pub used to be a hive of activity but in the past decade has become a high-risk location known for anti-social behaviour with little future direction.

Led by partners, Matthew Bates and Kerry Scarse, The Junction follows the same ethos as The Welcome, the first family-run pub in Silverhill, Hastings. In just over a year, The Welcome has achieved 30% growth, popular for its relaxed environment and hospitality, where the order of the day is good value, mouth-wateringly tasty pub grub, drinks, board games and four-legged friends.

Prior to The Welcome’s opening, mother and son team, Matthew and Hayley Bates transformed the unruly interior into a clean, safe and homely food-led pub within eight weeks. After securing the first start-up loan to refurbish the business, the restaurant has gone from strength-to-strength and is now a very popular establishment.

As Matthew puts his efforts into regenerating The Junction, Hayley has remained the face of The Welcome since day one. Her professional career has been predominantly care and sports therapy, previously running her own Sports Therapy business for over 15 years locally.

She has gone from completely inexperienced in the hospitality field to the most dependable and knowledgeable person in the business.

Hayley said, “my previous inexperience within the industry is something we feel has been both a steep learning curve and a strength as it has allowed for a fresh approach to building a new restaurant that is now hugely valued in the local community. I’m looking forward to seeing what The Junction can bring to Polegate residents and visitors alike.”

Matthew, a member of Hastings Round Table and organiser of sell-out charity event, Hastings Beer and Music Festival, has utilised his expertise in event management and business know-how to support both the launch of The Junction and The Welcome. Matthew’s goal has remained the same through both regeneration projects:

“It’s truly satisfying to turn an unloved pub into something valued and enjoyed by residents and visitors. The restaurant in Polegate will provide a much needed and eagerly anticipated leisure facility for a rapidly expanding area that is currently not catered for at all, as well as create new jobs for the local people. At both The Junction and The Welcome, there is no typical ‘customer profile’ – we welcome everybody.”

In-between running The Welcome, Hayley will support Matthew as a Director for the new pub, along with Kerry, who brings an extensive background in retail into the business. Matthew adds, “Both Kerry and Hayley’s experience will be invaluable in helping The Junction run smoothly in its first months of trading.”

Martin Menezes, who handled The Junction’s application, said: “I’m so pleased to have been able to support Matthew and Kerry in the opening of the second restaurant. It’s an incredible transformation and The Junction is the community hub Polegate needs.”

Talking about his experience with Let’s Do Business Start-Up, Matthew said:

“Our Start-Up Loan has been invaluable in helping get the business launched. We have been supported by Martin and his team every step of the way and the process was very straightforward and surprisingly quick. Our specific needs were not only listened too but understood and considered with genuine interest. I would, without question, recommend Let’s Do Business Start-Up.”