A river may not run through it, but new General Manager of The Boathouse in Yalding, Rachel Webb, is hoping the three rivers converging alongside her new workplace will bring a chance to go with the flow.
Rachel, 40, who has worked in the hospitality industry since her teens, has swapped life at a large pub and restaurant in busy Bexleyheath for the more tranquil setting of the Shepherd Neame riverside pub near Maidstone.
But she knows her time there won’t be quiet, as the venue is always fully booked and buzzing from spring through to autumn, as customers flock to enjoy al fresco drinks and dining with the spectacular views of the River Medway, River Beult and River Teise.
And she is already planning to channel the benefits of the pub’s unique location for further success, starting with table service to the boats which moor alongside the site.
Originally from Crawley, Rachel spent her career working for a number of pub chains, Mitchells & Butlers, Marston’s, and, most recently the Stonegate Group, running the Grade II Listed Danson Stables in Bexleyheath.
She said: “I initially went into hospitality because I love people and thought I could pull a pint! I progressed quickly in the industry and am used to managing massive teams and juggling everything that goes with that. But the higher I went with some of my previous employers, which were large chains, the more I realised I wanted to get back to a more personal approach – I wanted to get back to what I loved when I started and get my passion back for the industry.
“Here at The Boathouse, working for Shepherd Neame, which is an independent family business, I think I have found that. We are already incredibly busy in the summer months, so my focus is looking at what else we can offer our locals that will keep them coming back to us throughout the year.”
She plans to start opening for breakfast and will be staging more live music and some small events and promotions during the week to encourage families, parents at home with young children and retired customers to visit.
Parts of the pub date back to the 16th century and one area she is hoping to revive is the Edith Nesbit room, transforming it into a private function room. The pub, formerly The Anchor, includes a display dedicated to the author, best known for The Railway Children, and even featured in her romantic novel, Salome and the Head.
A new menu, along with new chalkboards announcing the latest specials, has been introduced, offering classic pub food with a modern twist, using seasonal ingredients wherever possible, along with a range of classic and innovative brunch options.
Rachel has been able to call on an extra pair of hands to help with the menu changes, as her partner, Dan Archer, an experienced Head Chef, has also joined The Boathouse team. He is now working alongside the pub’s Head Chef, Zine Abdi, as Sous Chef. Rachel said: “Dan is very happy to be the Sous Chef. Both of us made this move as we were striving for a little more work/life balance. While The Boathouse is busy, we hope that being in a quieter, rural location will help us do that, and we are really excited about embarking on this new challenge together.”