THE GRAND opening of a new Italian-themed restaurant at Ye Olde King’s Head Hotel in Horsham has been postponed.
The group ASK told the County Times that plans to open their doors to the public in November this year have been delayed until early 2012.
The company did not want to comment on reasons for this.
Doors were parted to the Grade II listed building, in the Carfax, for the first time in seven years this summer when work started on the conversion.
The hotel and its restaurant and coffee shop were abruptly closed by its owners in 2004 and subsequently boarded up.
The continued closure of the landmark building, which has a long and distinguished history, had been a source of regret for public and councillors.
The ASK restaurant giant is currently furnishing the 600-year-old interior with modern decor as it prepares to serve up Italian classics like bruschetta and bolognese.
However, a long-standing Horsham town centre councillor has branded the transformation a ‘disappointment’.
District councillor Christine Costin (LDem, Trafalgar), first elected in 1995, says it is ‘a great shame Horsham will lose a part of its history’.
“Having always lived in Horsham it’s a huge disappointment that we have lost the original feel of the King’s Head for some restaurant,” she told the County Times.
“I would love to have seen it stay as a hotel, it just had such a wonderful atmosphere and it’s a loss to all the town - a lot of people would have spent Christmases there and had parties. It was a great meeting place.
“I met my husband in there 42 years ago on a blind date. One of my friends said he was just right for me, and it turned out he was, 42 years later I’m still married with a son, a daughter and a grandson.
“For a lot of people it will have these sort of connotations, there must be dozens of local romances that blossomed in the King’s Head.
“It’s always difficult to handle change, but there already has been a lot of change in the town - my mum, who has just turned 90, was born at the cottages in Piries, which aren’t there any more.
“But we will all get used to the change and obviously I have to be positive because it’s good for the town - to see something all boarded up is no good for anyone. Although, it just won’t be the same sitting in ASK.”
The response from Horsham residents was mixed when the County Times asked what they thought of the new restaurant on social network Twitter.
One user, under the name of ‘carleymoos’, said: “I think it’s a great idea...love a bit of ASK... plus not a fan of many of the other restaurants in that strip.”
A ‘CanvinBrownJobs’ added: “ASK will bring more customer choice but added pressure to the other eateries in Horsham. Who will be next to come to town?!”
ASK pioneered their first restaurant in 1992, and now have over 100 nationwide, including outlets in Crawley Brighton, Burgess Hill, Lewes, Worthing and Chichester.
What do you think about the Kings Head becoming a chain restaurant? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Editor, 14-16 Market Square, Horham, West Sussex, RH12 1HD.