Public House of the Month
A friendly pub-restaurant the De Havilland Arms is situated in the heart of Elvetham Heath. Just two minutes from junction 4A of the M3, the De Havilland Arms is the perfect place to break up a long motorway journey. Blessed with a great chef team in the kitchen, you’ll be spoiled for choice with a menu and specials boards packed with delicious, classic cooking.
THE KEY ELVETHAM HEALTH FLEET Hants, FLEET GU51 1HA
Tel: 01252 628 102
- Free Wifi
- Car Park
- Regular Entertainment
- Dogs Allowed
Andy and Gail Morris joined Hall & Woodhouse at the De Havilland Arms in Fleet In 2014. We caught a quick chat with Gail before another busy day, to find out more about where they’ve come from and what they’ve got coming up in the future…
So Gail, tell us how you and Andy started in the hospitality industry?
We started with Chef & Brewer in Coventry. After a while, we moved on to Peterborough, then to a small company in Newark, and later to Greene King in the South. After running a pub in Yeovil, we joined Eldridge Pope in Dorchester as we liked the smaller, more intimate business structure, and after the pub was bought by Marston’s, we were drawn to Hall & Woodhouse.
Have your previous jobs differed from your current one?
Apart from Eldridge Pope, the big companies felt somewhat impersonal. Because the estates of these larger companies are so vast, you become a number; the Hall & Woodhouse business doesn’t feel like that at all, and the structure is a lot more personal.
How long have you been the General Manager of this pub?
We’ve been with Hall & Woodhouse since July 2014 when we spent our first 6 weeks with Ali and Paul over at the Peacock Farm in Bracknell. They were so patient with our training, and gave us a great insight into the systems used by managers. Their Team helped us familiarise with the H&W Team mentality. It’s all about pulling together, and dedication to one another.
So how does your Team sum up the Hall & Woodhouse values?
The Team we have in the House now have the values running all the way through them – like Blackpool through rock! They are Ambitious, Dedicated, they have bags of Integrity and Kindness, and they all work as a Team. With many drastic changes in the past few years, and new plans to come, the Team we have are standing together and we are very proud of them.
Tell us more about The De Havilland Arms, what is special about your pub?
We are fortunate to be having a full refurbishment soon. There haven’t been any big changes to the interior of the House for 13 years, and the proposed plans look very exciting! The House will be getting a new personality, with the Woodhouse family history on the wall and local history for Guests to read about. We’ve seen examples of refurbishments in some of the other Houses in the area, and they are stunning.
As a publican, you must have some good stories!
[after some very deep thought!]
I think that every pub we have managed has had at least one ghost. The De Havilland doesn’t seem to have any, and I’m almost disappointed!
In one of our first pubs, in Newark, the ghost introduced himself to Andy on our first day. We had been told about ‘the Bakerboy’ who spilt salt on the tables, and drew pictures in it, and from day one we were convinced. Andy heard someone say “Hello” as clear as day, and the only other person in the pub was me – and it wasn’t me….
Wildlife expert Michaela Strachan did the washing-up in one of our pubs, for charity! Other famous faces include the entire cast of Casualty, who used to have their breakfast with us whilst we were setting up for the day’s trade. It certainly is an interesting business.
Are you hosting events coming up?
We are making plans for a re-launch following our refurbishment later on this year, so that’s exciting. We will also be supporting the Elvetham Heath village fete again this year. It’s going to be a cracking summer!
If I were to buy you a drink from the bar, what would you like?
As I’m on shift it would probably be coffee! After work though, I would like some of our seasonal ale, Leaping Legend.
What would you order to eat with your drink of choice?
It would have to be our legendary Steak & Tanglefoot Pie. This year it won yet another gold award in the EBLEX pie awards, and for a good reason. It must be one of our best sellers!
What’s your favourite season of the year at the pub?
As I mentioned before, we haven’t been here a full year yet. I can say though, that the lighter mornings and evenings of Spring are very welcome. We like to rise early, get moving, and get stuck into some chores like clearing up leaves, checking our stock. The Autumn was pretty, as Elvetham Heath is very leafy and the colours looked great, equally Spring has brought out snowdrops and daffodils a bit early this year, and longer and brighter days are always cheerier.
What’s good to see and experience in your area after a visit to the pub?
There is a beautiful nature reserve in the middle of the Heath; we had lived here a good few months before I knew it was there! It has a pond, and is beautiful to walk through all year. There’s another picturesque park in Fleet. Nearby there is also Fleet Air Arm Museum, where you can spot our House’s namesake, Captain Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.
Thanks for letting us hear some of the goings-on behind the scenes, and just what it takes to provide excellent hospitality. All the best to you, Andy and your lovely Team.
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