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Thetford’s Dolphin Inn to re-open as up-market steak house

09:48 25 October 2012

Clive and Samantha Vooght (L to R) Karen Smith and Sean Licence of Hoggods who are taking over The Dolphin Inn in Thetford. Photograph Simon Parker

Clive and Samantha Vooght (L to R) Karen Smith and Sean Licence of Hoggods who are taking over The Dolphin Inn in Thetford. Photograph Simon Parker

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A Thetford pub which closed its doors earlier this year will be re-opened as an up-market steak restaurant by a local company.

HogGod’s will refurbish the The Dolphin Inn, on Market Street, with the aim of selling high-class wines, real ales and good-quality food.

The work, partly-funded by owners of the building, Enterprise Inns, should be completed in six weeks and it is hoped the restaurant, which will create four jobs, will open by mid-December.

HogGod’s was set up as a catering company, based on Roman Way, four years ago by two couples – Clive and Sam Vooght, and Karen Smith and Sean Licence.

Miss Smith said she hoped local people as well as those from further afield would visit the new-look, 50-seater, Dolphin Inn.

“It’s going to be a restaurant, not a pub,” she said. “It’s 318-years-old, it’s the oldest in Thetford, and it’s got so much character. I don’t think there’s anywhere else like it in Thetford. We want to get it up and running and get people through the door.”

Head chef, Darren Goodley, added: “The Dolphin used to be really busy and you used to have to book to eat here but when we stepped in they still had the old units and lights and even plates that I remember from being a kid.

“Now it will have a new kitchen, new bar top, new wines – we want to be at the top-end of the market and we’re going to do it properly. We want it to be a nice restaurant.”

HogGod’s, which also set up the Pantry Fayre Café a year ago on the site of the outside catering unit, and employs two chefs, one part-time and two weekend staff, was set-up with the couples’ own funds and profits are used in invest in new ventures.

“The outside catering is seasonal and it drops off around October to March and we couldn’t do a lot for the staff we had in the winter so we opened the café to give them regular employment,”

Miss Smith said. “We’re using it as a blueprint really and once it’s making a good profit we can take it elsewhere – if the pub goes well we’ll open another one.

“At the moment we take nothing from the company because we’re building it up – We step back and take on employees and we carry on. It’s push, push, push.

“If we can establish ourselves in a recession then by the time everyone else catches up, we’ll already be there.”

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