Taking on Shepherd Neame’s Deal Hoy was a true homecoming for Matthew Brett — the pub was his childhood home when his parents ran it in the 80s.
Matthew Brett behind the bar at the Deal Hoy
Matthew, who is now running the pub in the Kentish seaside town with wife Martine, knows the place inside out. But there’s no nostalgia when it comes to the décor — it has a new, fresh feel.
“When I run a business, I put my heart and soul into it,” said Matthew. “And that’s what I’ve been doing since taking over. It’s now bright, it’s clean, it’s airy.
“I grew up here. I have so many fond memories, especially of the customers from then. I keep getting flashbacks of some of them and of how the place used to be.
“My mum, Linda, used to sit behind the bar on a stool, knitting. She was known for it! Back when I was about 11 or 12 I used to be bottling up and checking the lines at weekends. I also became a mean pool player.”
Matthew, who is an accountant by trade, is the third generation of his family in pubs. His Nan and Grandad, Bill and Iris, also ran a pub in the town, while his parents, Linda and Trevor, ran the Deal Hoy from 1986 to 1991.
A tongue-in-cheek poster from the 80s, advertising the pub, and featuring Matthew’s parents, Linda and Trevor
He and Martine moved to the Duke Street hostelry from another former Shepherd Neame site a stone’s throw away, The Saracens Head in Alfred Square, which was sold by the company in the summer. The couple have two daughters, aged 13 and 16, the eldest of whom works part-time with them.
Among the nine full- and part-time staff is long-serving bar manager Ben Doran, who is well known to regulars, having worked for the previous licensee.
“We have already had some great feedback from customers since taking over,” said Matthew. “People have been telling us they love the changes we have made, particularly its bright new look, and our menu is proving really popular.”
A trained chef, Matthew is introducing a sharing roast later this month, which will be served between noon and 5pm at weekends, and cost £30 per board, based on two people sharing. It will use free-range, locally-sourced meat, with honey roast vegetables, home-made roast potatoes, greens with leeks, Yorkshire pudding, and red wine gravy. There will also be a vegetarian option. He also plans to organise special events including pop-up pie nights.
Matthew has also staged some private events at the pub since taking over, including a wedding and an engagement party, as well as three small live music gigs, which have been held on Sunday afternoons.
He added: “We love Deal, and it is fantastic to be back in the pub which has such special memories for me.”