A POPULAR restaurant has reopened after a fire ripped through its kitchen last July.

Stalida Greek Taverna, on Hexham’s Battle Hill, had been due to reopen after lockdown when a fire raged through the restaurant last summer causing substantial damage to its interior.

Now, owner Selena Truta, who runs the business alongside partner Billy, is delighted to once again be bringing the authentic taste of Greece to the Tyne Valley.

“It’s fantastic! I can’t believe we’re actually open after a year”, she said. “It was a bit of a nightmare but now we’re looking forwards and onwards.

“ It’s been really good, really busy! Loads of phone calls, loads of old customers coming back to see what the place looks like and a load of new ones as well. Everyone’s so happy being inside that it’s just been a combination of great feelings.

“It’s all redecorated inside and a fresh, new kitchen.

“We only got the building handed back to us at the beginning of March from the builders but after that, Billy has basically decorated the whole thing (restaurant) by hand.”

The restaurant has also now restarted its takeaways and hopes to soon offer a delivery service again.

Selena added: “We’ve had loads of cards for ‘welcome back’ and ‘good luck’ - they’re all over our bar!

“The streets are really busy. All the businesses that are opening seem really positive. Everyone has worked really hard to do positive steps while they’ve been shut.

“Everyone also just seems really happy to be able to go and sit inside. They’ve done really well the places that have been able to open outside but the weather hasn’t always been with them. I think people are quite happy to feel a little bit of normality again”.

All of the restaurant’s staff were put on furlough but have now returned to work.

“We put our staff on furlough”, said Selena. “So we’ve got all the same team back as we had before, people will know them. Our kids are another year older - they’re 14 now - so they’ve got a Saturday job at the restaurant. It’s a real family feel to it.

“We’re hoping when it relaxes again, we’ll be able to bring those final touches back to get back to full normality.”

Stalida opened in 2016 after the couple began their culinary journey in Hexham with a takeaway van and popular Billy Bites, on Fore Street, having owned a successful restaurant in Crete for ten years.

No one was injured in the fire.