Plain sailing for eight-month-old gastropub winner

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cornish glee: the Mariners has established an admirable reputation after winning Newcomer of the Year
Cornish glee: the Mariners has established an admirable reputation after winning Newcomer of the Year

Related tags: Estrella damm, gastropubs

After just eight months, the Mariners has scooped the “mind-blowing” Newcomer of the Year award at Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs.

Together, Paul and Emma Ainsworth have built a gastronomic empire as the Cornwall pub makes its first year in the Top 50 Gastropub list and, making quite an impression too coming in at number 23.

Paul said: “My mind is blown. We've been open for eight months so it’s been a heck of a ride when you know what’s gone into making the Mariners what it is.” 

The Rock-based pub has a selection of eight menus to choose from, from the à la carte, children’s, collection, Cornish cream tea, gluten-free, Sunday lunch, vegan and vegetarian, meaning practically all needs have been catered for.

But Paul explained the pub’s prime concept is making it accessible for everyone and focusing on the timeless classics that invoke the British tradition.

Heritage retained

Paul said: “When I opened a pub, I wanted to do a Ploughman’s. Wherever I’d go I wanted a Ploughman’s and it was never quite right. Either the cheese was freezing cold or the meat was a bit rubbish.

“It’s about the timeless classics. They’ve been around for a very long time and we brought them back and given them the love they needed.

"No6 is our original restaurant, that was where we won a Michelin star. So it's about giving the DNA from that into things like fish and chips, curry, burgers, fried chicken and Ploughman's. 

“You’ve got to have that essence of pubs because that’s what the British institution is about. They weren’t always like restaurants, so I’ve kept that heritage.” 

Balancing act

To receive such an accolade after only being open since May 2019 has required a lot of work from the couple and their team.

Paul continued: “Me and my wife did it with all our own money, we didn’t borrow anything so that was a huge risk doing it like that. We made it work with our other businesses so juggling that was huge.”

He added: “The biggest challenge running it in the early days was making it not feel like a restaurant.

“I didn’t want the whole pub being bookable, so we made sure no one could book in downstairs, customers can just come in and have something to eat. It was about trying to balance those two things.” 

But ultimately, Paul argued that it all boils down to the customer.

“Cook and make your pub for your customers. Just understand what they want. I knew that our customers wanted to come in, have a great view and a great-quality pint,” he continued. 

“I’ve never opened a business and been received like the Mariners has been.” 

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