Licensees leaving gastropub after decade of service

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Long service: Ben and Sarah Handley have been at the helm of the Duck Inn, Stanhoe since 2013
Long service: Ben and Sarah Handley have been at the helm of the Duck Inn, Stanhoe since 2013

Related tags Food Gastropub Chef Norfolk

Norfolk operators of a top gastropub have announced they are leaving their pub after 10 years.

Ben and Sarah Handley are stepping down from the multi-award winning Duck Inn, Stanhoe and have given a six-month notice period to landlords Elgood’s Brewery.

The duo announced it was ‘time to hand on the baton’ in a social media post yesterday (Wednesday 1 March) afternoon.

The pub, which was number 40​ on this year’s Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub list, was honoured by the community for their work amid the pandemic when Ben created thousands of meals for the NHS, homeless and vulnerable people and many more.

On their departure, Ben said: “The past few years have been particularly challenging for all of us but we have been overwhelmed by the incredible support from all our customers and suppliers, as well as the unwavering commitment from our amazing team.

“Sarah and myself feel the time is now right to pass on the baton of this truly special little pub to someone else who have bring the fresh energy and ideas to take it forward yet another step while we take a little time to rest up and reflect on a really special decade in our lives.”

Sarah thanked the pub’s staff, customers and landlord for their support over the decade at the site.

Sincere gratitude

She added: “Every single member of our team over the past 10 years has been so important in creating the unique atmosphere and delivering the highest level of hospitality to our customers and we would like to thank each and every one of them.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do anything without them and we will always be a very large extended family.

“We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to Elgood’s Brewery for all the support throughout our time here.”

Seasonal local produce has been at the heart of the Duck Inn with local drinks on offer while serving a full suite of Norfolk food in delicious dishes.

The pub also became synonymous with its Sunday lunch, serving local beef that had been matured in the Duck’s own ageing cabinet as well as local pork with coriander salt crackling and a vegetarian pie of roasted vegetables and toasted seeds.

It was named by The Observer ​as one of the best in Britain, the Sunday lunch also came in at number four in the UK in The Sunday’s Times​’ list.

Celebration period

“We realised early on at the Duck that Sunday was a very special day and we wanted to create an atmosphere for everyone to feel welcome and enjoy a family Sunday lunch, using the very best local produce, without the stress of cooking and washing up,” Ben said.

“Our hearts are always warmed as we see the same faces every week, which shows us we have created that special home from home for families to enjoy the most special day of the week,” Ben added.

The next six months will be a period of celebration for the team as they reflect on the decade and champion many of dishes that have put their name on the culinary map.

Ben outlined what the future holds and he said: “I am very excited for what happens next and am listening to offers and ideas, which put great food front and centre so keep your eyes peeled because I’m not going away.

“In the meantime, please come and celebrate this wonderful little village pub in Stanhoe, which we have been proud to call home since 2013.”

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