Family creates 50 new jobs by reviving two Suffolk pubs
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A couple, who have transformed a pub near the Suffolk Heritage Coast during lockdown, are celebrating having breathed new life into their second venture.
In a kind of real-life ‘60 Minute Makeover’, Harry Taylor and wife Crystal Scott had just one week to put the finishing touches on The Poachers Pocket on Rosemary Lane in Carlton, near Saxmundham, having just taken on the keys from the previous landlords (who ran the pub for 25 years).
It’s been go-go-go to realise their vision – bringing the vibe, décor and menu in line with their other pub, The Fox at Darsham, which they turned around during the middle of 2020.
“My aunt and uncle, Barbara and Philip Clifford, own The Fox,” Harry says. “They’ve had it for 20 years and while the plan was for it to be a house, they ended up privately renting it to a landlord. When they retired they wanted to take a shot at running it as a pub, but felt a bit out of their depth, especially with Covid going on, so it was a stroke of luck my wife and I were available and could take it over for them.
“It’s been very successful. We’ve made it a nice community place. We’ve now got 20 members of staff and lots of tourists are coming in.”
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Taking the keys to The Fox at the end of June last year, Harry and Crystal worked tirelessly to bring all their industry knowledge to the business, heavily investing in refurbishing the building inside and out, adding nearly 40 more covers, and extending opening hours – to be open every single day.
Word-of-mouth has spread, and slowly but surely The Fox is creeping its way into the Suffolk food and drink arena.
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“We’ve got a lot to offer here,” Harry says. “We’ve got fantastic local beers like Adnams, obviously, and we use Earl Soham brewery down the road towards Dennington. They’re good friends of the family and people love John’s ale. We’ve also been working with other local suppliers like Emmerdale Farm Shop, fishmonger Danny at Scaled Up, and Farmhouse Bakery.
“Our menu has lots of classics, but we like to keep up with the latest food trends as well, so you’ll find a few special bits added here and there – the kind of things you might find in a gastropub in Shoreditch. Halloumi fries. Asian pan-fried salmon noodles. We’ve also become a bit famous for our Fox burgers. There are eight different types to pick from!”
While the couple run The Fox on behalf of the family, they are business partners in The Poachers Pocket. But wasn’t it a bit risky to take on a new pub in the middle of a pandemic?
“The decision behind taking it on was actually made because of Covid. We were doing takeaways and deliveries in lockdown, including Saxmundham, and found business went through the roof there. Every other journey was into Sax, and we noticed how many houses there are in the area, and what’s available there already. As a family we looked at the building and thought it could actually be a great opportunity. We could make a nice pub for local people. So we all pitched in together to buy it.”
Anyone familiar with The Poachers Pocket will find it completely different now. Outside seating has tripled to accommodate nearly 60 people, and a facelift has been carried out inside...with more changes to come in the future.
“It’s really picturesque,” adds Harry. “And it’s a bit of a hidden gem, tucked right off a residential street. You’d never find it unless you knew it was there. Vines grow up the front, which is really attractive, and there’s a country garden that wraps around the whole building, with plenty of lovely plants and trees. It’s very green here.”
Food and drink echoes The Fox, with the menu featuring dishes such as beer-battered cod and chips with minted mushy peas, homemade tartare sauce and charred lemon, gnocchi pomodoro, buttermilk-fried chicken, Caesar salad and gourmet burgers, as well as stone-baked sourdough pizzas.
Children have their own menu. And dogs are given a warm welcome, with a bowl of fresh water and treat ready and waiting for them.
Making the whole family feel at home is important to Harry. “We want to make every visit an experience. We like our staff to take time to chat with customers and pride ourselves on that. It absolutely makes a difference.”
Speaking of staff, Harry is delighted that between the two pubs, he and the family have been able to create around 50 jobs in the area.
“We were in such a lucky position to be able to take on a pub like this and generate new opportunities. And we are committed to invest further. We plan to grow the business by investing every penny back in that we make, so it can be the best it can be.”
The Fox and Poachers Pocket are both open every day from 12noon to 10pm, serving food and drink until late (including Sunday roasts).
Breakfasts and brunches may be introduced in the future, but Harry has these covered for now with his vintage airstream café at Westleton Road – which he runs on behalf of a local campsite Mill Hill Farm. The Silver Fox café is open from 9am Wednesday to Sunday serving locally sourced breakfasts and lunches and, on Fridays and Saturdays from 5pm to 8pm, street food and American and Canadian classics, like buffalo wings and poutines. Ideal for a meal on the fly as you travel home from a day at the beach.