It used to be a pub known for its vast selection of sausages.
Now there’s more variety on the menu at The Sussex Brewery in Main Road, Hermitage, near Emsworth, thanks to food-orientated landlord Simon Haynes.
The 39-year-old is a chef by trade, so when took over the lease eight months ago he decided to pour his skills into revamping the dishes.
There’s now a range of traditional British and European dinners, but the pub is still the place to go for fantastic real ales too.
There are six pumps which serve Tribute Ale and Bombardier and a selection from Young’s Brewery, which owns the pub.
Hermitage Festival Ale, a beer made for the pub by Young’s Brewery, is served from two barrels on the back of the bar.
When Simon took over, the pub served between 40 to 50 different varieties of sausage, but he decided to scale it back and sell seven different ones each week instead.
The meat comes from O’Hagans Sausages in Chichester. ‘It was basically known as a sausage pub,’ Simon said.
‘Though I don’t want to take that away, I wanted to introduce other things and give people more of a fresh offering.
‘We try to change with the seasons.
‘At this time of year, traditional British food is very popular.
‘We do good, hearty food like steak and kidney puddings.
‘We also pride ourselves on being a real ale pub.
‘And since I took over, there are more female customers and our wine sales have doubled.’
Simon said his extra trade is partly down to giving the pub a tidy up and redecorating the toilets.
‘It’s always had a great heart, it just needed a refurbishment and a clean up,’ he said.
The pub is traditionally furnished and has an open fire.
There are also two restaurant areas, a bar and a snug space.
A quiz is held every other Sunday.
One of the focuses next year will be to see how trade can be improved during the summer months and start doing some barbecues.
‘We want to try and stay consistent,’ he said.
‘I haven’t really sat down with my staff yet to see where we need to push on.
‘But this place is so winter orientated, so once the summer comes I would love to do some barbecues.
‘It means we’ll be able to catch customers walking past.’
The pub was built in the early 17th century and used to brew its own beer.
MEET THE LANDLORD
FRESH-FACED landlord Simon Haynes knows a thing or two about preparing a good meal for his customers.
He was the head chef at The Crab & Lobster in Sidlesham, near Chichester, for three and a half years before deciding to run a pub for the first time.
Talking about why he decided to have a change in career, Simon said: ‘It was the natural next step for me.
‘This pub was quite a safe bet.
‘The drinking trade was always good.
‘It was just the food side of things that needed changing.
‘I used to drive past the pub, and when I saw it go up for rent I thought I would go for it.’
Life has been tough for pubs run by tenants in the past 12 months, with many blaming the cost of beer and rent for the downturn in trade.
But despite the challenges, Simon is feeling positive about the road ahead.
‘Judging from the customer feedback I’ve received, I’m feeling positive,’ he said.
‘This trade is always going to have its highs and lows.
‘If you are a freehouse you can keep the price of beer low.
‘But we have got a good drinking trade.
‘Next year, I would like to see the food sales go up.
‘I may not ever make a ton of money out of this, but I make a living.’
‘This pub is not as formal as places I’ve worked before, and it means I get to speak to the regular customers.
‘I think they like to see me here as well.
‘Before, the pub was just with a holding company.’
Simon, who was born in Southampton, lives in Havant and has been based in the area for about 20 years.