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Food & Drink

Pub whose old owner went to prison wins prestigious Michelin star 10 months after reopening

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Natasha Smith pulls a pint The Bridge Arms. (SWNS)

By Joe Morgan and Lydia Chantler-Hicks via SWNS

A village pub whose previous landlord went to prison has won a prestigious Michelin star just 10 months after its new owners reopened the doors.

The Bridge Arms, near Canterbury in Kent, has gained the restaurant industry's top accolade.

It was a second Michelin star for husband and wife team Dan and Natasha Smith after they also won one after opening gastropub The Fordwich Arms nearby

The Grade II-listed Bridge Arms, in the village of Bridge, was previously known as The White Horse.

But its chequered history saw it left empty last year when its former boss was convicted of hoarding child sex abuse images.

The exterior of The Bridge Arms. (SWNS)

Dan and Natasha rebranded the pub as The Bridge Arms and worked at full speed to transform the venue, refurbishing it and crafting a new menu inspired by the Basque cuisine of the Spanish city of San Sebastián, before officially opening last April.

Dan, 30, cut his teeth at Michelin-starred London restaurant The Clove Club, while 29-year-old Natasha specialized in events.

Describing how they got The Bridge back up and running, Dan said: "We want to disassociate it with the reputation it had. It's just a new chapter in its life."

Interior of one of the dining areas at The Bridge Arms. (SWNS)

He said the Michelin award was "absolutely incredible" and "unexpected, but much appreciated".

He added: "We've got a great team that works really hard. Without our team none of this would be possible.

"We all focus hard on the quality of the food we produce, and the end of the day, Michelin recognized it.

"It's all a bit surreal. We opened Bridge on the back of Fordwich trying to do something a bit different, something more family-oriented, as you don't want to just open the same pub.

"We don't really cook for the guide, we cook for our guests - but to be recognized is incredible. It was our dream to get a Michelin star.

Owners daniel and Natasha Smith, who have earned a Michelin Star at The Bridge Arms.

"It is still our dream to keep working hard. It's an incredible achievement, but it's not down to one person as everyone works relentlessly every week. It shows hard work pays off.

"Our phones are now going off the hook and I've definitely noticed a surge in bookings already.

"Right now the way I'm thinking is that it's one thing receiving a star but another is maintaining it.

"It's all about consistency and maintaining the standards and that's where the secret lies.

"Now is where the real work starts - everyone will have expectations."

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