A budding entrepreneur is adding a fourth bar to his hospitality empire as he prepares to open a brand new eating and drinking establishment in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the last six months, Gary Perkins, who owns Taps Bar, Spitfire and The Vault in Darwen, has been busy renovating and kitting-out the old Barclays Bank building on Church Street in the town.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Acquiring the building just before lockdown, Mr Perkins said he plans to turn it into a space that serves high quality drinks and cocktails and food made for sharing, with an outside decking and seating area.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Speaking about The Bank Bar and Kitchen, he said: "There's still some things to finalise with licensing and planning and we're halfway through installing the kitchen.

"Essentially, and for the time being, because of the way things are with the restrictions, it will be a restaurant, primarily focused on food."

Lancashire Telegraph:

In order to achieve that, Mr Perkins has enlisted the culinary skills of Mark Taylor and Jamie Evans, from The Dog Inn in Belthorn, who will be expanding their repertoire by operating the kitchen at The Bank, working alongside management team Lloyd Lawson and Kate West.

Mr Perkins said: "The boys have got a fantastic reputation for high quality food and will be producing incredible dishes for customers to enjoy.

"Lloyd and Kate are also an excellent management team, as not only have they worked in Taps Bar for years and are part of the Darwen community, but they are best friends too."

Lancashire Telegraph:

Taps Bar, on Railway Road, is currently undergoing a refurbishment, with plans to erect a canopy at the front of the establishment so outdoor seating can become a possibility.

Mr Perkins added: "I purposefully didn't re-open Taps after lockdown because it was such a vibrant and busy bar and I didn't want to lose that with all the restrictions, as it would've taken the fun out of it all.

"But things don't look like they'll be changing anytime soon so I'm re-opening Taps as a restaurant, alongside The Bank.

"And then when we come out of all this hopefully we can start to move back towards the bar side of things."

Lancashire Telegraph:

Along with Taps Bar, Spitfire and The Vault, which together form Darwen Bars and Leisure Ltd, Mr Perkins, originally from Manchester, has created something unique in Darwen and says he's been overwhelmed by the support from the community.

He added: "The Darwen community are amazing. They really take you under their wing, and are so supportive and that's what I like about the town.

"We hope to have both bars open before Christmas. Ideally I want them open this month, but definitely before Christmas."

Lancashire Telegraph:

Around ten jobs will be created when The Bank opens, which at a time when the hospitality sector is in crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be very much welcomed by the people of Darwen.

For more information visit @thebankbarandkitchen on Facebook.