William the Conqueror re-opens


The William the Conqueror pub in Rye Harbour, has been completely transformed in a major £200,000 refurbishment by Shepherd Neame.

The pub was closed during the five-week project, which included repainting throughout in contemporary colours, introducing new furniture and decorations, opening up a dual aspect fireplace and refurbishing the bar area and toilets.

The former pool table room has been converted into a restaurant which can seat up to 20, and can also be hired for functions. All garden furniture at the front of the pub has been renovated, the ground has been returfed and the front has been decorated, with new handpainted signwriting.

The pub is based on the banks of the River Rother in the picturesque harbour, on the edge of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, which is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and just 10 minutes’ walk from Rye Bay.

Licensee Neil Smallwood took the pub over in November last year, and its unique location was among the key features which appealed to him.

Neil, 47, said: “My wife Maria and I took on our first Shepherd Neame pub, the Royal Oak, in Whatlington, two years ago, as I had been in the catering industry for more than 30 years, managing restaurants for major chains, and we wanted to work for ourselves. As I have experience running multi-site operations, we began looking for another Shepherd Neame pub to expand our offer, and when we found the William the Conqueror, we loved its beautiful location, overlooking the river and a short walk from the sea.”

The refurbishment project also included installing a brand new kitchen, and Neil and Maria have marked the revamp by introducing a completely new menu. Food is available from 12 noon to 2:30pm and 6pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday, from 12 noon to 9pm on Saturday and 12 noon to 4pm on Sunday.

Neil said: “Maria is a Greek Cypriot and has a real flair for cooking, so she was in charge of food development at the Royal Oak and introduced a lot of healthy Greek-inspired dishes, along with the traditional pub classics, which have proven very popular. We are offering a similar menu at the William the Conqueror, with a particular focus on fish dishes due to our coastal location.”

The pub has also launched a Steak on the Stone special, available from 6pm to 9pm every Saturday. For a set price of £14.99, customers can enjoy an 8oz ribeye steak which they can cook exactly to their liking on a hot lava stone, accompanied by hand-cut chunky chips and salad.

Neil said: “We have taken on a chef, member of bar staff and kitchen porter to work at the pub so far, and are planning to add more team members during the summer months. We have had lots of great feedback from locals on the new look of the pub, and are really excited about our venture.”

Shepherd Neame’s director of retail and tenanted operations, Nigel Bunting, said: “We are delighted with the results of this substantial project. We are confident that this investment will allow the pub to fulfil its potential, offering a great experience for locals and visitors.”

Source: Shepherd Neame


Photo: Shepherd Neame

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