Woodies restaurant reopens in Chichester after devastating fire

TWO brothers are celebrating the reopening of their Chichester restaurant – just months after it was devastated by fire.

Shane and Matt Beaton, joint proprietors of Woodies in St Pancras, were shocked when a kitchen fire in May caused a quarter-of-a-million pounds worth of damage.

Matt Beaton (general manager), Jamie McGreal (DJ), Joey Weller (Sous-chef), Shane Beaton (head chef)

Matt Beaton (general manager), Jamie McGreal (DJ), Joey Weller (Sous-chef), Shane Beaton (head chef)

Now, after several months of repairs and refurbishment, the bar and brasserie opens its doors tomorrow (October 16).

“It’s been a difficult few months, to say the least. There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Shane.

“Everyone’s raring to go,” he added.

“We’re going to hit the ground running.”

With 99 per cent of staff returning, they are prepared to welcome back their customers – and are booked up for opening night.

Not too much has changed, but the pair have made a ‘few subtle changes’ according to Matt, one of which is a colour change from green to grey and black.

“We’re trying to give it a fresh face without changing too much,” added Shane.

“It’s been part of Chichester for 40 years.

“It’s as rebranded as we can go.”

A lot of food, such as bread and ice-creams will now be made in-house in the newly-refurbished storeroom and kitchen.

The fire in May started in a deep-fat fryer and the kitchen was completely destroyed by the blaze, as well as the storeroom.

The restaurant was also badly smoke-damaged.

Fire crews were able to contain the flames and prevent it spreading to other properties along St Pancras.

It took more than an hour for the fire to be brought under control and nearly two hours for the fire and the numerous hot spots to be completely extinguished.

Shane estimated the total cost of the refurbishment was around £250,000.

He praised construction company Topmarx for their work in restoring the building.

“They’ve been very, very good,” he said.

Defying what the pair described as ‘Chinese whispers’ around the city that they were not reopening, they have already taken a number of Christmas bookings.

The restaurant first opened in 1972 and the brothers have run it for around ten years.