Paul and Claire Gratton, from Walton, purchased the old Anchor Inn on Market Place, Bolsover in 2019.
Paul said: “We bought the building in October 2019, and it needed one hell of a rescue. Structurally, the building needed to be completely gutted. We’ve had three new roofs and almost every floor replaced, and all the electrics and plumbing were ripped out.
“We really stripped it down to the walls and started piecing it back together as sympathetically as possible, respecting the fact that it’s a 300-year-old building.”
After an extensive refurbishment over the course of the pandemic, the venue opened its doors in November 2021. It consists of Sanctuary Garden, the bistro and bar, Sanctuary Rituals, a beauty spa, as well as a bed and breakfast.
Paul said they hoped to offer the people of Bolsover and beyond something unique – and that the response had been overwhelmingly positive.
“The intention was to bring something a little bit different to Bolsover. We’ve got a lot of traditional pubs and a Wetherspoons, but we saw a gap in the market.
“We had a busy couple of months in the lead up to Christmas, and it’s growing all the time, going from strength to strength.
“The other parts of the business are flying – Sanctuary Rituals on the first floor is run by my wife Claire, and they’re pretty much full, week in week out.
“We also have one B&B room upstairs, and another opening in a few weeks time. That’s become successful through AirBnB and Booking.com, and we’re booked up most weekends with that – there’s very positive signs on that front.”
The work at Sanctuary Garden has not stopped, even after their opening. They recently completed a new outdoor area and expanded their menu, and Paul said investment into the venue would continue.
“We recently opened our outdoor area as well, and for the jubilee weekend, we’re opening our outdoor kitchen, with wood-fired pizzas and an outdoor grill.
“This gives us a more diverse menu and lets us take the business forward another step, bringing in more people who haven’t experienced the place yet.
“For a business that’s six months old, we’re very pleased with how it's going – there’s still a lot to do and more investment to make it precisely how we want it, but we’re 90% of the way there.”
Paul also said that, despite the business facing rising costs, he wanted to make sure that the venue was accessible to all.
“We’ve introduced some offers on courses, with early bird offers that get you two courses for £15 and three for £18.
“It’s high quality, organic, local produce – we’re not buying the cheapest of ingredients. We remain determined not to lower the quality, even with the cost of everything rising – we want to keep it accessible to the people of Bolsover and keep the prices sensible.”
Paul added that, despite having no experience in hospitality, he and Claire were still glad to have taken the plunge.
“Claire was a homemaker for 20 years, and I’ve worked in waste management and recycling for over 30 years – we were completely new to hospitality. It’s been an eye opener, and quite a journey – but an exciting and rewarding one.”