THE owners of a thriving rural pub have said that they are determined to come back fighting after having to close their kitchen due to staffing issues.

George and Dragon, in Swallowfield, is famed for having some of the area's finest pub food and customer service.

But the pub recently said it would need to close the kitchen for the first time in 28 years due to staffing issues. 

The pub hopes its kitchen will open again in two weeks' time with new kitchen staff.

The George and Dragon team said: “Please know that however disappointing and inconveniencing this may be, we’re as gutted as you are.

"It’s a real shame after all the progress has been made, but we feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Despite the setback, pub staff have reassured customers that they would be back and stronger than ever very soon.

Landlady Rachel Whiting said on the pub's Facebook page: “Please don’t worry everyone. We will turn this around in spectacular style as we are committed to providing you all with a fantastic pub.

“We look forward to seeing you all in the meantime for great beer, fabulous wine and cheeky cocktails. Opening times to be confirmed.

“Thank you all for your continued support. We really appreciate it."

Rachel said she wants to build up a strong team that can provide the highest quality food that the pub is famous for.

But, in the meantime, a host of street food vendors are set to make an appearance outside the pub in Church Road for customers to enjoy inside.

This includes Funky Pickle (Mexican Street Food), Lunchin Munchin, Mexically and Grumpy Shake Shack.

Several of the pub's loyal customers have raised a show of support for their favourite local.

One said: "Hoping for the kitchen to be up and running soon.

"The food is absolutely fantastic at George And Dragon, Swallowfield. My family and I are foodies and this pub is a real gem in terms of food, flavour and taste.”

Another commented: “So sorry to hear that guys.

"We've always loved coming to your pub and only haven't been as our now seven-month-old won't let us out!

"I work in hospitality and the industry is a nightmare at the moment.

"I hope you come out of it stronger and I look forward to your lovely pub grub when you're back up and running.”