Pub owner and chef Nikki, 78, on her plans for The Moon and Mushroom

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Nikki Gavin, 78, has been running the The Moon and Mushroom pub f

Nikki Gavin, 78, has been running The Moon and Mushroom pub for 17 years - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

There is no slowing down for Nikki Gavin, 78, the owner and chef at a popular Suffolk pub. In fact, she has big plans in store.

Nikki, who has run The Moon & Mushroom in Swilland, near Ipswich, for 17 years, is now putting it through a substantial rebrand. 

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Moon & Mushroom was named the Evening Star's pub of the year 20 years ago in 2002 - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Nikki said: "We are going to be changing our image entirely. We are working with a branding consultant and he's already shown us a new logo. It's very exciting.

"I'm of the age group where I don't really get social media— we've done bits and pieces but we've never had a comprehensive approach. We want it to be tight, and we want everything we do so well to be catalogued.

"We have people coming in, and saying they never knew the pub was here — the pub has been here for 400 years, if people don't know it's here we're doing something wrong."

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Relics of Suffolk's brewing history adorn the walls in The Moon and Mushroom - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Speaking about her experiences in the kitchen, Ms Gavin said she used to be front-of-house, but made the move into the kitchen following the departure of a chef.

She said: "I just went into the kitchen myself. It was harrowing to be thrust in there seven days a week, and certainly wasn't why I bought the pub."

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Nikki Gavin, 78, has been running the The Moon and Mushroom pub f

Initially, Ms Gavin found working in the kitchen "Harrowing" - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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However, she wasn't entirely unprepared: "I had a company doing high profile events for the non-profit sector. I worked with the Princess of Wales, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

"It grew into quite a big organisation but I got involved in the kitchen, so it wasn't entirely new to me."

Nikki added: "I'm a London girl, but I've always had a cottage in Suffolk. 

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Picture:

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"The Moon & Mushroom was my local pub. One night the old owner, Clive Goodall, said he was looking to sell the pub and I - probably slightly drunk - said I'd do it.

"I hadn't a clue what I was getting into. It's a lot of work to buy a pub, especially with regard to the licensing in those days so I must have been quite passionate."

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Nikki and her bar manager Mark - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Nowadays, Nikki runs the pub with the help of her bar manager and "saviour" Mark Lawrence: "He's been with me for five years, and I was looking for him the whole time before that. He basically runs the place."

She continued: "When we came back after lockdown, I found the pub had a slightly different audience - a bit younger."

"In the whole time I've been here I could predict what was going to happen on a day, but now, I don't have a clue! It is exciting.

"That said, no week is ever the same. We've had births, deaths and marriages over the years and our amazing customers feel like family— on one particularly memorable occasion, someone went into labour in the rose garden."

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The specials board at the Moon & Mushroom in Swilland - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Speaking about her food, Ms Gavin said: "If I could only recommend one thing it would have to be my Catalan fish stew.

"I lived in Spain for quite a long while, and this was the local dish in a little bar I went to. 

"I put it on the menu and it never came off. People come from as far as London and Colchester for it.

"The sauce takes a whole day to make, and it features squid and monkfish."

The Moon and Mushroom in Swilland. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The interior at The Moon & Mushroom in Swilland. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Moon & Mushroom is in High Road, Swilland. Opening hours are at 5-10pm daily, with lunch available on Saturday and Sunday.