A COMMUNITY pub that two years ago was saved from closure after locals started a petition is preparing to open its doors on Thursday (July 16) for the first time since lockdown.

Steve and Lauren Jones, who run The Cavalier in Eastleigh Road, Devizes, said: “We were going to open on July 4 but we wanted everything to be completely safe for our customers.

“We have had a massive support from our regulars and can’t wait to welcome them all back but it had to be once all the guidelines were clear and we were totally ready.”

The pub now has thick cellophane wrapped around the bar to protect both customers and staff, a one way system for people arriving and arrows on the floor. Hand santisers are on every table and two order stations have been set up at the bar.

The couple, who took over as tenants of the Wadworth owned pub in October, 2018, after the brewery decided not to push ahead with plans to redevelop the site, are delighted they took the gamble.

Lauren, 26, said: “It was a bit of a gamble for us but we are delighted we took the plunge. Wadworths have been incredibly supportive to us during lockdown and have kept in regular contact.

“It was a huge relief when we were told by them that we would not have to pay rent during the closure.”

The couple, who got married at Gretna Green in January, were also helped by a £10,000 Government grant that they ploughed back into the business to pay for stock, an ice maker and a glass washer.

They have also used their time in lockdown to give the pub a deep clean and to paint.

Now the couple and their Staffordshire bull terrier Roo are ready to re-open at 4pm on Thursday. To begin with the pub, which has a big pub garden and function room with pool tables, will only open Thursday to Sunday.

Wadworth CEO Chris Welham praised a number of tenants who have used lockdown to carry out improvements.

He said: “Steve and Lauren and the work they have done at the Cav during lockdown is simply amazing.

“I have visited a number of other of our tenanted pubs and have been simply inspired with the way that our business partners have invested in decorating and refurbishing their pubs during lockdown.

“Firstly,there is the Moonraker’s beautiful garden. Then Heidi’s creativity at the New Inn Coate and Freddie’s hard graft at the Ivy Heddington who has also opened a shop at the pub for the villagers.

“The work that Stuart the new lessee at the Castle, Devizes, is undertaking is also tremendous and the Cross Keys, Rowde has also been operating the local shop.”

The King’s Arms at All Cannings also carried out extensive work before re-opening on July 4.. Landlady Virginia Long said: “We have had some lovely feedback from everyone about our new refurbishments, especially from the locals.”

The Crown, Devizes is due to open on Wednesday (July 22).