A husband and wife team who love a challenge have taken on a second Shepherd Neame village pub.
The pair, who have two teenage children, have extensive experience of the hospitality industry. Andrew grew up in the trade as his parents ran the Tiger Inn, Stowting, and he then trained as a chef. He and Diane ran Wards Hotel in Folkestone together for 14 years, then moved to Spain to launch a small steakhouse chain before returning to run The Chequers on the Green.
They fell in love with the historic yet cosy feel of the Bonny Cravat on their first visit. Since taking over, they have overseen a complete, yet sympathetic refurbishment of the pub, including redesigning the dining room to create a more spacious feel. Outside, there is now also a covered terrace and lights to improve the customer experience.
Diane said: “We are really proud of everything we have achieved at The Chequers on the Green and really enjoy working with Shepherd Neame, who have been so supportive since we joined them, particularly during the challenges of the past 18 months.
“After we were able to reopen our pub earlier this year, we decided to look for another tenancy; a second venture to keep things exciting – we like to keep busy! The Bonny Cravat has an amazing history – it is said to have tunnels that connect it to the church. Our aim with the refurbishment was to take it back to a real country pub.”
Andrew is working as Executive Head Chef across the two establishments, and the day-to-day running of the Bonny Cravat is now in the capable hands of Assistant Manager Leigha Ferguson, who previously worked for the couple at the Chequers on the Green.
A delicious menu of homemade dishes is now on offer, from light snacks such as baguettes and wraps to delicious mains including Italian Fish Stew, Thai Penang Curry, Slow-Cooked Rack of Ribs and a range of speciality burgers and pies, including vegan and vegetarian options. The Bonny Cravat also offers 12” stone baked pizzas, available to eat in or takeaway, and booking is essential for their popular traditional Sunday roast. There is also a tempting selection of homemade desserts on offer, and younger customers can choose from The Bonny Shipmates menu.
Diane and Andrew have also reinstated some popular community events at the Bonny Cravat, including a monthly quiz night, classic car rally on the first Sunday of every month and a recent fun dog show – the pair have two dogs of their own.
Diane said that although both The Chequers on the Green and Bonny Cravat are Shepherd Neame pubs based in villages, they couldn’t be more different. “They are sister pubs but they offer very different experiences. We took on the Bonny Cravat because we wanted to do something a little different to The Chequers. It is a pub that lends itself to community events, and we have been lucky to receive incredible support from local residents already; they really want it to do well so they have been very supportive.”
The Bonny Cravat can be found in Bethersden Road, Woodchurch, and is open Tuesdays to Sundays, serving food Tuesdays to Thursdays from noon to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm; Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9pm and on Sundays from noon to 6pm.
To find out more visit www.bonnycravat.co.uk or call 01233 860345.
About Shepherd Neame
Britain’s oldest brewer Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, the Bear Island Collection and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and is the sole UK distributor for premium Thai lager Singha and Truly hard seltzer. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.
Press release from Shepherd Neame