A Shepherd Neame licensee is calling time on her career behind the bar after 28 years with the Faversham-based independent brewer.
Karen behind the bar of the Rose Inn
Karen Hazell, 63, retires from running the Rose Inn, Mortimer Street, this week, two months after receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Shepherd Neame Pub Awards, held at the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury.
She ran her first pub in Plumstead at the age of 25, in the height of the 80s, when she would run four disco nights a week, such was their popularity. From there she moved to a pub and B&B in Charlton Church Lane, a stone’s throw from Charlton FC’s ground, The Valley, where many drinkers were football fans.
She then moved to the Rose Inn in Herne Bay with her then partner Dave in 1994, where they were the first Shepherd Neame tenants, before moving to the Clothworkers Arms in Sutton Valence. In 2003, a few years after Dave passed away, she and new partner Barry Harris made the move back to Herne Bay, returning to the Rose Inn.
Karen said: “When we first took on the Rose Inn in 1994, it was under an old fisherman’s licence, which meant it could open at 9am. That’s how long ago it was! When I came back all those years later, it needed a complete redecoration as it was very dark, with brown ceilings and a black floor.
“It’s always been a wet-led pub, and we have lots of regulars. It’s the regulars that keep you going, especially in the winter. We get a lot of tourists in the summer. Shepherd Neame have been great to work with, and so supportive through Covid. They were absolutely outstanding.”
Karen and partner Barry show off their famous flower display
When she and Barry returned to the Rose Inn in 2003, they introduced the blooming floral displays adorning the front of the pub, which it is now well known for, and which continue to brighten up Mortimer Street today.
While being friends with many regulars, Karen has also been a formidable landlady over the years, and was never afraid to stand up to the odd rowdy customer.
“You’ve got to set standards and keep to them,” she said. “But you have got to have a laugh, too. When you think back over your life, you realise how much everything revolves around the pub. I have so many stories from running pubs over the years I keep saying ‘I could write a book!’”
The couple, who have two grandchildren from Barry’s daughter, and have been together 15 years, have bought a bungalow and plan to take more holidays in retirement. Karen may also get to indulge her favourite habit of clothes shopping, having recently mastered shopping online.
Years of being behind the bar meant being well presented was a must for Karen. “I have to do my hair and make-up before seeing the customers, naturally.”
The pub will be taken over by Georgina Paxton, who also runs another Shepherd Neame pub in Herne Bay, the Hampton Inn.