Paignton pub loved by locals and tourists reopens after £2.5M refurb

Paignton's 'bigger and better' Wetherspoon pub The Talk of the Town has enjoyed a record-breaking boost in its first few days since reopening after a £2.3million refurbishment. The doors to the seaside town's only 'Spoons were thrown wide on Tuesday.

Floorspace has been increased by about a third and the pub has been refurbished and redecorated throughout. There is a new colour scheme and finishes, carpet, lighting and furniture, as well as booth seating.

The manager told DevonLive feedback from customers had been overwhelmingly positive. Mick Mackriell said: "It's been record-breaking. We've never had so many customers. From the moment we reopened it has been busy. Everyone has been really impressed and I think they are glad to see The Talk of the Town is back."

The pub shut for a massive upgrade on February 3. The revamp cost £2.3m. Most of the work involved enlarging the floorspace by knocking through into a neighbouring building. The first difference visitors will notice is that the entrance to the pub has been moved into the new extension. It is now in front of the new bar, which also moved.

Regular Julie Redman said: "I think it's absolutely lovely. It's bigger, there's more seating area, the bar area, the catering areas are lovely. I live in Paignton so this is my regular. There's a lot more people here now. It was quite quiet before and very dark, you couldn't see to order food and things. But now it's a lot brighter and there seems to be a lot more people here, it's roomier. It's great, I love it.

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Kevin Kray and Carole Palmer-Ley at The Talk of the Town
Kevin Kray and Carole Palmer-Ley at The Talk of the Town -Credit:DevonLive

"We've missed it a lot. We didn't come out when it was closed because the other pubs are so expensive. It is the reasonable prices that make the big difference. We can basically pay £5 for two pints here."

The pub has increased in size from 3,675 to 5,420 square feet of customer space. Other work includes the heating and cooling system being renewed and the roof renovated. There's also a larger terrace overlooking gardens at the back.

Julie said the only drawback was the distance to the toilets. Customers have to climb a flight of stairs. Another customer said he had waited 40 minutes for food. "I know it's really busy and there have been a few changes but that's not what you expect here," he said.

The Talk of the Town has been a fixture in the town for over a decade. Its location near the seafront and amusements on Torbay Road, make it an attraction for locals, families and holidaymakers.

Sophie Faulkner and Nevaeh Fitch, both 18, sat in one of the new booths celebrating the end of their studies at South Devon College with glasses of rose wine and a vodka energy drink.

Talk of the Town in Paignton
Talk of the Town in Paignton -Credit:DevonLive

Sophie said: "We come here all the time. It's cheap, cheerful and has a nice vibe. We missed it when it was not here and had to go all the way to Torquay. It's far better than it was, I'd definitely give it ten out of ten. The food is good quality. There's not many places you can get a meal for a decent price."

Nevaeh said: "Before it was like a six out of ten, just because it was so small and it was hard to get a table. You come here all the time and it's always busy. It's so much lighter in here now too."

Kevin Kray is one of the regulars. He and his friends enjoy a drink at their usual table overlooking the street. He was here on re-opening morning and returns most days. "It's lovely here. The manager's good, all the staff are good.

"It's the value for money, the price of the food, the beer, everything is excellent."

Expanded interior to The Talk of the Town in Paignton
Expanded interior to The Talk of the Town in Paignton -Credit:DevonLive

He says Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin, who lives in Devon, is a familiar face and often stops for a chat.

Denise Ball is on holiday from Wolverhampton. She has been a visitor to the English Riviera for many years and adores the area.

"It feels much more welcoming than it did before," she says. "To be honest it was bit dark and felt like a bit of a dive when we came in the past. It was so dark you could barely see where you were walking. We thought we'd give it a go and it is so much better.

"The food is fantastic and the staff have been amazing."

Terrace Talk of the Town
Terrace Talk of the Town -Credit:DevonLive

Staff member Carole Palmer-Ley, 65, is busy clearing tables in every corner of the pub. She has worked here for four years. "It's the best value pub in town and offers so much," she says.

"I love my job. I'm a people person and I feel so lucky to meet people like Denise and Kevin. A lot of places wouldn't employ somebody who is my age. It is non-stop but it is great. It's a good company to work for, the management and staff are first class."

Not everyone was impressed with the new layout. One punter from Dawlish said he loved Wetherspoons but felt the new expanded floorspace made it more of an 'eating emporium' than a boozer.

Twenty full and part-time jobs have been created and overall the pub employs about 80 members of staff.

The pub is open from 8am until 12midnight Sunday to Thursday, and 8am until 1am Friday and Saturday. Food is be served throughout the day, from opening until 11pm, serving children, accompanied by an adult, until 9pm throughout the week.