Community spirit ignites village pub

Banton ‘hub’ which closed more than a year ago reopens during pandemic

Work began on The Swan in June last year. Picture: The Swan Facebook

THE Swan pub in the village of Banton, near Kilsyth, reopened to the public on August 21 more than a year after it closed its doors for refurbishment.

The community-owned pub was on track to open in April, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed its reopening indefinitely.

Wendy Dunsmore, a committee member of the People United for Banton – a group of locals who took ownership of The Swan in July 2018 to save it from permanent closure – said reopening has been bittersweet.

Dunsmore said: “We had a soft launch the week of reopening for training purposes and staff did a run through of the food and bar services with committee members and villagers as customers.

“It was a tragedy that we couldn’t celebrate the big reveal the way the community and the team should have been able to with all of the COVID-19 restrictions in place, but everyone has been really behind it since we reopened.”

The Swan will operate as a cafe and restaurant initially and bar services will resume when restrictions are eased.

Dunsmore said: “Banton is a small community and lots of people here have been shielding.

“We’re not opening the bar initially as it would be too difficult to turn away our regular customers if they’ve not booked a table, so we’ll operate as a cafe and restaurant for the first few months and see how things go.

“We were lucky to be doing up the premises from scratch as it was easy to move tables and chairs around to accommodate social distancing, but we knew we’d only get one chance to make a good first impression and to ensure customers feel safe.”

The team behind the venue, which can currently accommodate 16 people in the bar area and 25 in the restaurant – roughly 50% less than its regular capacity – say it will serve as a ‘hub’ for the village which has lost a number of its amenities over the years.

“The hub is going to be a social place for the community to meet, even if it is at a two-metre distance for a while, and that’s what the village has been missing.

“We’ve got lots of ideas to get the community involved, but that can only happen when it’s safe to do so.

“During lockdown, villagers were going out for walks and catching up with people at a safe distance that they hadn’t seen in months, and now that the weather is changing, The Swan is going to be the place where people can say ‘hello’.”

Andrew Morris, general manager of The Swan, said the venue will also offer takeaway services.

“We understand there are still people who don’t feel confident going into venues,” he said.

“It will take a lot of getting used to running the bar and restaurant with the new COVID-19 rules in place.

“My family is connected to the village of Banton and I’ve always known The Swan had so much potential and that’s why I was so interested in the project.”