By Stuart Richards
"We were just joking around and said to someone we were going to turn it into a lap-dancing club."
"Dancing girls" are advertised outside The Crown pub in Knaphill
But once the joking was put aside, pub landlord Chris Parrott discovered his licence did actually allow for "dancing and other entertainment".
Now The Crown has strippers two nights a week in a bid to combat any financial losses possibly caused by the imminent smoking ban.
Mr Parrott and his partner, Corinne Leonard, took over the premises - in Knaphill, near Woking, Surrey - about 18 months ago.
Chatting casually in an already non-smoking area of the pub, he said: "When we first moved here we didn't really know a lot about the area, we thought we could do what most pubs would be doing and extend the kitchen and go for food.
"We tried it for a couple of weeks, we employed a chef, but we might have been serving one meal a day if we were lucky.
"No-one can compete with the takeaways and restaurants in Knaphill, there's 21 in the village.
"We also started doing live music every Friday, but I don't think there's scope for it on other nights of the week."
Concerned they might lose some of their regular drinkers after 1 July - about 80% of whom are smokers - Mr Parrott set about coming up with a new pub venture that people "can't do in their front room".
So strippers are now performing in a closed-off section of The Crown, with bar takings on Mondays and Wednesdays at least doubling over the past few months.
Mr Parrott sought advice from Woking Borough Council before introducing his "dancing girls" to Knaphill.
The conditions are that he employs two doormen, no "interactivity" with the dancers is allowed and all blinds and curtains must be shut.
Mr Parrott said he limits entry to a maximum of 40 people and the girls make their own money with a collection before their performance.
"The only way I benefit is by having people here two nights a week, that we wouldn't normally see, who are buying drinks at the bar."
He said he felt the pub needed another way of making money because he feared his regulars would "cut down their number of visits" once the smoking ban comes into force.
"I can see why it's been done and I understand the reasons behind it," he admitted.
"But I do believe that landlords or licensees should have been given the choice, especially a place like this which is a boozer full of working men."
A corner area of the bar is sectioned off and a stage put in place
Despite some initial concerns about the strippers from the pub's close neighbours, there is a feeling now that "people have just accepted it".
Mal Foster, vice-chairman of the Knaphill Residents' Association, said: "I think it's received a mixed reception but they haven't had any major protests."
And pub regular Roger Peachey, aged 54, said: "If a landlord needs extra revenue, then why not?
"It's done in a tasteful way. It's treated in this pub as a bit of a laugh and a bit of entertainment, it's not looked upon in any other way."
Woking Borough Council said it had to date not received "any complaints with regard to the activity itself".