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Saturday, 04 April 2020
AS Simon Duffy sits relaxing in one of his luxurious sofas next to a warm fire sipping his glass of Chilean Merlot he chats to me about his success in the pub-restaurant business.
Currently landlord of the popular Perch & Pike in the picturesque village of South Stoke, he explains why he loves his business.
Simon, with his James Bond-type looks and personality, lives with his partner Sofie from Jonkoping in Sweden and their daughter Phoebe.
Simon met Sofie while she was working in the industry and, being fully trained in hospitality, the two quickly became an efficient team.
Simon, who has enjoyed previous success in business, explains that he had enjoyed a “good day out” at Lockinge Point-to-Point in 2010 before enjoying a final drink in the Rising Sun in Witheridge Hill. A few hours later, Simon was virtually signed up as the new landlord!
“It was so quick,” he says. “But after a successful seven years there, I felt that I was fully trained to take on a larger establishment.”
He adds: “I loved the Rising Sun and the customers — many I consider lifelong friends and have followed me to the Perch & Pike.” I joined Simon for dinner and although I did read the comprehensive and tasty menu ranging from scallops and baked camembert through to steak, I must confess to being such a regular that I barely glanced at the menu — instead choosing from the house specials, which vary daily.
While we ate the usual high standard of food that I have become accustomed to at the Perch & Pike, Simon happily explained how much he enjoyed the village life and showed me a helpful leaflet that Brakspear have produced detailing dog walks starting and ending at the pub.
Needless to say, Simon’s pub is totally dog- and family-friendly. His attention to detail is very high, as demonstrated in his beautiful letting rooms, all carefully thought out and equipped with Nespresso machines.
He told me that he caters for everything from family breaks to overnight stays and is happy to accommodate all requirements. It is this attitude no doubt that seems to have made him really very popular in the village. Indeed, whilst I was visiting, a local asked if I would mind choosing the numbers for the 200 Club.
Sadly, I didn’t choose Simon’s number. Simon smiled and further explained that he is to be holding “steak nights”.
These will involve three types of steak — namely, fillet, rib-eye and rump — plus an “industry specialist” speaker to explain the difference in the various cuts of meat and how they should be prepared.
As a lover of steak, I will definitely be attending these! Equally, his quizzes are an absolute sell-out!
Finally, when I asked Simon about holidays, he laughed and said: “I find it very difficult to let go. I admit I pay such attention to detail, even on a rare day off you will still find me casting my eyes over everything, scrutinising and ensuring perfection!”
Perhaps this mindset and clear love of his clients explains why he won Brakspear’s “Best All-Rounder” award last September.
But then, don’t take my word for it — go and see for yourself…
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