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The King’s Head at Staplehurst has been named Pub of the Year in the Shepherd Neame Pub Awards.
Licensees from 15 of the brewery’s 350 pubs in the South East received awards for various aspects of running a successful pub, such as pulling the perfect pint, serving consistently great food or being at the centre of the local community.
Judges commended King’s Head licensees Robert and Nicola Tallon for achieving 10% annual growth for the past three years against a challenging economic backdrop, boosting beer sales and offering “great levels of service and quality to both locals and those passing through”.
Robert said: “We are made up – my wife was in floods of tears when we collected the award. We didn’t expect this because we knew we were up against so many managers and tenants setting very high standards. We have been at the pub for five years and building it up year-on-year has been a real pleasure, thanks to brilliant staff, always having fresh ideas and constantly moving forward.”
The awards were presented by Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame at a Shepherd Neame Pub Awards dinner for licensees held at the Conningbrook Hotel, Ashford, on Tuesday July 2. He said: “Our pubs and hotels offer distinctive food and drink, high quality accommodation and excellent customer service in the heart of communities across the South East. These awards celebrate the high standards achieved by our licensees and chefs through innovation, dedication and attention to their customers’ needs.”
The Pub Restaurant Award went to John O’Riordan and Liz Thomas of the Three Mariners, Oare, for its exceptional quality and enhanced offer, such as the three-course Walker’s Menu, while the Pub Food Award was won by the New Flying Horse, Wye, with head chef Dugald Patten and his team serving “only the freshest of local ingredients to produce an innovative menu sure to tempt any palate”.
The East India Arms in Fenchurch Street, London, won the Perfect Pint Award, with Bob Benton and his team serving more than 100,000 pints a year in peak condition, while the Sportsman, Seasalter, run by Phil and Steve Harris, was named Wine Pub of the Year for its impressive sales, knowledgeable staff and range of carefully-selected wines offering exceptional value.
Gerry and Marie Dolan of the Westminster Arms, London, shared the Manager of the Year Award, for their hard work and enthusiasm in increasing sales and profitability while hosting many important events and famous people, while the Managed Business of the Year Award went to Ian Storey, manager of the Conningbrook Hotel, Ashford. Judges commended Ian and his team for continuing to grow sales and profitability by constantly developing businesses opportunities in the face of strong local competition.
Ivan Piovesan and Cibele Gonzales of the Old Ivy House, London, won the New Licensee of the Year Award, for building drink sales and introducing food after a major refurbishment augmented with authentic Italian curios. The Tenanted Pub of the Year Award went to David Brant and Tony Mosedale of the King Henry VIII in Edenbridge, who have achieved year on year growth since taking on the pub and fully utilised its garden with a covered eating area.
The Heart of the Community Award went to John and Julie O’Malley at the Warren Inn, New Romney, which has raised tens of thousands for charity and is the home of many sports teams and community groups. The King’s Head, Deal, won Best Floral Display for its spectacular hanging baskets and stunning seaside frontage, lovingly tended by licensees Graham and Shirley Stiles.
The Gate Inn, Marshside, was named Marketing Pub of the Year, after licensees Tony and Moya King redeveloped the garden and restaurant, built a strong social media following and commissioned a professional marketing video which has clocked up more than 5,500 views on YouTube.
Sarah Smith, Tony Tarrats and Annabel Foreman of the Duke of Cumberland, Whitstable, won the Innovator of the Year award for creating an entertainment and food offer in an environment perfectly in tune with their customer base.
The Walnut Tree, Aldington, was named Turnaround Pub of the Year, licensees Karen Barrett and Steve Worrow commended for their work to revive the pub by revising the food offer and refurbishing the interior, resulting in a doubling of turnover.
A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Chris and Melanie Maclean, who retired as licensees in May after 22 years at the Plough and Harrow, Bridge and the Railway Hotel, Faversham. Chris was an active member of the tenants’ liaison committee, trained colleagues in cellar management and other skills and is now entering a new career as a clergyman.
FULL LIST OF WINNING PUBS AND LICENSEES
Shepherd Neame Pub of the Year – King’s Head, Staplehurst – Robert & Nicola Tallon
Managed Business of the Year – Conningbrook Hotel, Ashford – Ian Storey
Tenanted Pub of the Year – King Henry VIII, Edenbridge – David Brant & Tony Mosedale
Manager of the Year – Westminster Arms, London – Gerry & Marie Dolan
New Licensee of the Year – Old Ivy House, London – Ivan Piovesan & Cibele Gonzales
Pub Restaurant of the Year – Three Mariners, Oare – John O’Riordan & Liz Thomas
Pub Food of the Year – New Flying Horse, Wye – Dugald Patten
Wine Pub of the Year – The Sportsman, Seasalter – Phil & Steve Harris
Perfect Pint – East India Arms, London – Bob Benton
Heart of the Community – Warren Inn, New Romney – John & Julie O’Malley
Best Floral Display – King’s Head, Deal – Graham & Shirley Stiles
Marketing Pub of the Year – Gate Inn, Marshside – Tony & Moya King
Innovator of the Year – Duke of Cumberland, Whitstable – Sarah Smith, Tony Tarrats & Annabel Foreman
Turnaround Pub of the Year – Walnut Tree, Aldington – Karen Barrett & Steve Worrow
Lifetime Achievement Award – Chris & Melanie Maclean