In the 18th century, the Blue Anchor at Crowborough was a popular haunt for smugglers and poachers. Today the Shepherd Neame hostelry - named Pub of the Year in last year’s Beautiful South Awards for Excellence and a finalist again this year - is a popular pub and restaurant offering a warm welcome during the winter months with its two open fires, along with a spacious garden and patio perfect for alfresco drinking and dining.
We caught up with licensee Amy Glenie, who has been at the helm for almost four years, to find out more about her role and how she turned the pub into the thriving, award-winning venue it is now.
Why did you take on the Blue Anchor?
I have extensive experience in the hospitality industry as my mum is a chef and I worked as a catering manager as well as working in a few different pubs. I was running a different pub in the area when the Blue Anchor became available. I knew the previous licensee and thought it looked like a good opportunity as it is in a really lovely area and I had lots of ideas for ways in which I could expand and improve the offer.
How have you found working with Shepherd Neame?
Working for Shepherd Neame is absolutely brilliant. They have been really supportive since I took on the pub, and were especially great during Covid. They immediately cancelled rent when we were closed during lockdown and remained in constant contact, providing information about applying for grants and offering other support. Whatever you need help with, there are people there when you need them. I would 100% recommend running a Shepherd Neame pub to anyone.
What qualifications are needed for your role?
I took a BA in Business Studies before moving into hospitality which has been helpful, but you don’t really need any specific qualifications – just a love for the industry as it can be hard work!
What does a typical day involve?
Every day is different - that is what I absolutely love! It could be anything from cleaning to setting up events, running weddings, you name it, I might be doing it.
What is most rewarding about your role?
I love everything about it. It was daunting to begin with as I self-funded my tenancy at the Blue Anchor, but I am absolutely enjoying every minute. It has been a gradual process to make the changes I wanted to the pub, and it is still a long way off where I want it to be. But I’m very proud of what we have achieved. We have created a warm, friendly environment with great food and drink that customers want to come back too. I’m also proud that our business is making a difference as an employer of local people. Since taking on the pub we have increased the number of staff from three to 30.
You won Beautiful South Pub of the Year 2021. Tell us about that…
The awards are organised by Tourism South East, which obviously covers a large area, so it was a huge honour to win. The Blue Anchor is very much a food-led pub, with my background in catering, and the judges were really impressed by the quality of our food and our service, along with the quality of our drink offer. They also praised our team for being incredibly warm and welcoming, which was lovely. We have also been shortlisted for the final again this year.
What are your hobbies and interests outside work?
I do pilates and my husband and I have our dog Oban, but as I’m really passionate about food, one of my favourite things to do is go out for dinner – it often provides inspiration for our menu at the pub!
The Blue Anchor can be found at Beacon Road, Crowborough, TN6 1BB, telephone 01892 319299. It is open from noon daily to 10pm Monday to Sunday. For more details go to www.blueanchorcrowborough.co.uk.
For information about running a pub with Shepherd Neame visit www.shepherdneame.co.uk/careers