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Case study - New Flying Horse, Wye

Joe and Jane Mullane always loved entertaining – and now they entertain hundreds of customers every day, running The New Flying Horse in Wye.

The pair previously had careers in the City before Joe chose to retrain as a chef, and persuaded Jane to take on a Shepherd Neame pub, the Four Fathoms at Herne Bay, in 2018. Just over two years ago, they then moved to The New Flying Horse.

It was an easy choice for them to go into business with Shepherd Neame. “I spoke to a number of licensees and what was clear was that there was a good response from the ones that were working with Shepherd Neame,” said Joe. 

“It’s like a good franchise. You get support and knowledge and then you do your own thing. You’ve got a template for success and that is what we loved.”

He added: “I think Shepherd Neame’s ethos is very close to what we feel about the world as well. It is a partnership – we’ve got their name over the door so we need to represent them well and they need to help us do it. That is when it comes together. It isn’t us and them - it’s us together.”

With a love of hospitality, having enjoyed hosting dinner parties for friends for many years, it’s all about the customer experience for the couple. “They come to a pub to be looked after,” says Joe. “It goes back to our dinner parties. We like looking after people. Every day, in a way, we run two massive dinner parties – the only difference is we charge people now!”

After running the Four Fathoms in Herne Bay from 2018, they were ready, post lockdown, to try something new, and decided to take on The New Flying Horse.

The beamed building nestled in the village of Wye is decorated with many quirky details, including in its nine bedrooms, which all boast a unique style and feature thoughtful details such as classic radios playing music when guests arrive and a few tasty treats.

Jane said: “Our offer here has changed, compared with what we did at the Fathoms, but we know what we did there worked, so we wanted to bring that over here. And then we’ve added to it.”

The couple pride themselves on their menu, including dishes which have a story attached to them, and an extensive wine list including some 59 options.

And they hope that when guests visit, they will feel they have made a personal discovery. 

Joe says: “People come here because it is a great experience and they go away and tell their friends and then they come – we want everyone to feel they are discovering us. We want it to be everyone’s secret.”

Their approach is proving successful, as The New Flying Horse won the Shepherd Neame Wine Pub of the Year award in 2022, and was named Shepherd Neame Pub of the Year in 2023.

One area the couple emphasise as key to ensure a successful tenancy is the team. Joe says: “Our success is because we have got a great team. When we have been lucky enough to win awards, we are like children coming home from sports day with their medal, because we just want to come in and share it with the team.

“Anyone looking at taking on a tenancy, my best advice is surround yourself with great people.”

Click here to find out more about the New Flying Horse: